The DC Out-of-School Time Coalition sent the following letter to every member of the DC Council on Tuesday, October 12 in response to ongoing issues with the DCPS employee clearance process, which is impacting many OST programs that partner with DCPS schools, and whose staff must complete the clearance process to meet certain suitability requirements.
Dear Members of the DC Council,
We are writing on behalf of the DC Out-of-School Time Coalition to share challenges many OST programs are experiencing with the DCPS suitability screening process and to propose solutions to these challenges. We ask the Council to call upon DCPS to address the problem outlined below so that the many OST programs who have been impacted can begin serving students and families in afterschool programs to their fullest capacity.
Programs that provide afterschool programs in partnership with DCPS schools have reported ongoing delays in the suitability screening process that all new staff must complete before beginning to work with students, and that current staff must complete to renew their clearance. Program directors have shared that when some staff members complete the necessary steps in the screening process, they do not receive a response about their results in a timely manner, preventing them from starting work. This is particularly common with the drug testing and Child Protection Registry requirements. DCPS reports that drug testing has an expected turnaround time of 10-15 days and the Child Protection Registry (CPR) Screening has an expected turnaround time of 3-5 days, but some staff have waited longer – from several weeks up to two months – to receive their clearances. While DCPS has communicated to the coalition that the DC Child and Family Services Agency expect to have all CPR applications for DCPS processed by Nov. 1, the coalition recommends the following steps be taken to address this issue:
DCPS should identify the source of the delays and address the issue to avoid a similar problem in the future. It should also ensure that the system includes a real-time feedback loop for applicants to address any outstanding issues with their applications.
DCPS should provide staff to provide supervisory support to OST programs, so that OST staff who are awaiting clearance can begin working with youth under the supervision of a cleared DCPS staff member.
The widespread delays have had several negative impacts on the ability of OST programs to serve DCPS students, in some cases forcing programs to delay the start dates of their programming or reduce the number of students they serve. Some new OST employees have made the decision to exit the hiring process because they were unable to wait weeks or months to begin earning needed income. Some programs report risking noncompliance with grant requirements to serve students in-person. Please refer to the written testimony of DC Action policy analyst Ryllie Danylko at the September 21 COW public hearing on school reopening for specific examples of how programs are being impacted.
It is in the best interest of students, parents, and OST providers to take immediate action that will allow all DCPS OST partners to begin providing the afterschool opportunities upon which so many District families depend. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the coalition by responding to this message. Thank you for taking this issue into consideration.
The DC Out-of-School Time Coalition