Out-of-school programs seen lacking resources

Organizations that provide services for children outside school do not have the financial resources they need to adequately address administrative needs, facilities improvement and strategic planning, a new report says.

While those organizations are not in danger of collapse from weak management, a “less-than-optimal” administrative infrastructure does have real consequences, notably at the program level, says the report, which was released by The Wallace Foundation and based on interviews and site visits at 16 high-performing organizations that provide out-of-school time in New York City and Chicago.

Front-line staffers often take on more administrative duties than they should to make up for gaps in infrastructure and support, and the organizations’ leaders are constrained in their ability to manage their programs in a forward-looking and strategic way, the report says.

“Many of the challenges we identified in the study are widespread throughout the nonprofit sector including issues associated with government contract compliance, managing and monitoring cash flow and accurately budgeting for the full costs of programs,” says Hilda Polanco, managing director of Fiscal Management Associates, which conducted the study.

Key findings include:

* Many top organizations operate on a thin margin of cash, making their ability to manage cash flow crucial.

* Administrative compliance with government contracts for these services is a formidable challenge requiring significant time and effort.

* Many organizations lack the budgeting and monitoring systems to fully understand the true costs of providing their programs.

* These groups often lack sufficient human-resource support because of a lack of staff trained in human resources.

*Information-technology infrastructure and training is often limited.

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