The past five years have seen a ground swell in public attention and public policy aimed at increasing the availability of after-school programs for children and young teens during the "risk" hours when safety, supervision and homework are of top concern. Popularly called "after-school," these programs represent a new and growing variation on the broader group of out-of-school time programs and opportunities that have been around for decades -- programs ranging from youth orchestras to soccer leagues that reach children and older teens. What does research tell us about after-school programs? What outcomes are realistic? What practices are essential? What changes are measurable? How does the call for scientifically-based research fit into the picture? In the first of a series of policy briefs focused on out-of-school time issues, Deborah Vandell, a leading researcher on after-school programs, gives a walking tour of the research. Kerry Mazzoni, California Secretary of Education, shares her perspectives on how research influences policy.