Early Release and Late Arrival GuidanceGuidance for early release policies in after school programs and late arrival policies for before school programs.
The purpose of this revised guidance is to assist After School and Education Safety (ASES) and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant recipients with the creation and implementation of their early release and late arrival policy in compliance with the law. In addition, this guidance is intended to provide support for ASES and 21st CCLC with the development of one comprehensive program using the New Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P) funding. This guidance does not apply to After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens programs.
- To inform grantees of the requirements of early release and late arrival policies.
- To provide grantees an understanding of the common issues and promising practices as it relates to the implementation of the early release and late arrival policies.
Late Arrival and Early Release Policies
California Education Code (EC) sections 8483(a)(i)(B) and 8483.1(a)(1) require grantees to develop a policy for the reasonable early release and late arrival of pupils from before and after school base programs based on local needs. Late arrival and early release policies allow students to arrive late or leave early for a variety of reasons, as developed by the grantee. These policies assist programs in documenting attendance for the day. The program is required to stay open for a minimum of 15 hours per week and until at least 6 p.m. every day school is open [EC Section 8483(a)(1)(A)(i)], students are not required to stay the entire length of the program. The purpose of early release and late arrival polices are to identify the reasons as to why students are leaving before the end of the after school base program or arriving late to their before school program.
All grantees are required to have a procedure for documenting student attendance. This procedure must comply with the early release policy for after school programs and late arrival policy for before school programs. Such procedures and documents are auditable records for attendance compliance.
Education Code After School Base Programs
EC Section 8483(a)(1)(A)(i): Every afterschool component of a program established pursuant to this article shall commence immediately upon the conclusion of the regular school day, and operate a minimum of 15 hours per week, and at least until 6 p.m. on every regular school day.
EC Section 8483(a)(1)(B): Every after school component of the program shall establish a policy regarding reasonable early daily release of pupils from the program. For those programs or school sites operating in a community where the early release policy does not meet the unique needs of that community or school, or both, documented evidence may be submitted to the Department for an exception and a request for an alternative plan.
EC Section 8483(a)(3): In order to develop an age-appropriate after school program for pupils in middle school or junior high school, programs established pursuant to this article may implement a flexible attendance schedule for those pupils.
Education Code for Before School Programs
EC Section 8483.1(a)(1): Every before school program component established pursuant to this article shall in no instance operate for less than one and one-half hours per regular school day. Every program shall establish a policy regarding reasonable late daily arrival of pupils to the program.
EC Sections 8483.1(a)(2)(A) and (B):
- Subsection (A): It is the intent of the Legislature that elementary school and middle school or junior high school pupils participate in the full day of the program every day during which pupils participate, except when arriving late in accordance with the late arrival policy described in Education code Section 8483.1(a)(1) or as reasonably necessary.
- Subsection (B): A pupil who attends less than one-half of the daily program hours shall not be counted for the purposes of attendance.
Education Code for Supplemental Programs
EC Section 8483.76(f)(2): A summer/supplemental grantee that operates a six-hour per day program is required to submit, for prior approval by the Department, a revised program plan that includes an attendance and early release policy for the program that is consistent with the local educational agency's early release policy for the regular school day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are after school programs required to have an Early Release Policy?
Yes. The EC requires every ASES and 21st CCLC after school program to establish a policy regarding reasonable early release of students from the program (ECSection 8483[a][B]).
Promising Practices—It is a promising practice to have the Early Release Policy address the reasons for the early release of students from the after school program. The Early Release Policy documents the reason for early release to allow programs to count student attendance for the day.
It is recommended that the Late Arrival and Early Release Policies be implemented by establishing codes for the various reasons of early release or late arrival. Below are sample codes that have been used in the field:
- Participation in school athletic programs and team sports (example-girl scouts, sports, etc.)
- Off-site enrichment programs
- Family emergency
- Medical appointment
- Child accident/injury
- Safety issues (darkness, weather)
- Other conditions (state reasons)
Do parents/guardians need to indicate the reason for early release if they are picking their child up before the end of the program?
Yes. The purpose of an early release policy is to identify why children are leaving before the end of the program. Thus, it is important for parents/guardians to identify the reason they are picking up their child before the end of the program. The requirement for parents and guardians to indicate the reason for early release should be determined by the local early release policy. All locally established early release policies must be documented in advance.
Is a separate early release form required for expanded learning programs?
No. The EC only requires that each program have an early release policy that is being implemented on a daily basis (EC Section 8483[a][B]). However, documentation of early release must be indicated when early release occurs based on the local policy (i.e. sign out sheets).
What are some of the common issues identified with the implementation of early release and late arrival?
Early Release and Late Arrival requirements are monitored through an annual independent audit and the Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) process. The Policy Committee of the Expanded Learning Division conducted an in-depth review of the most frequent findings and found early release and late arrival to be a common finding. Below are the common issues identified through the FPM process:
- The program does not have a policy.
- The program is not following its policy.
- Ensure the policy that is created is clear, comprehensive, and communicated to all program stakeholders, including but not limited to: parents, students, teachers, program staff and school staff. Effective strategies for communication include, but are not limited to inclusion of the early release/late arrival policies in the: parent handbook, enrollment application, family orientation, and website.
- Provide reminders to parents when the reason for early release is not indicated (i.e. phone calls or note home).
- When creating the Early Release Policy, identify a pick-up process that will limit disrupting activities taking place.
If our ASES or 21st CCLC program is running one comprehensive program with the ELO-P, are we required to indicate the reason for early release?
Yes. If the ELO-P is combined with a current ASES or 21st CCLC program, early release or late arrival must be indicated in accordance with the EC. Grantees may, at any time, revise their policies to ensure local needs are being addressed.
Review Date: Final––June 2014
Approved by After School Division Director
Review Date: Revised––December 2021
Approved by Expanded Learning Division Director