Recognizing this, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health commissioned P/PV to identify the characteristics of quality after-school programs that are linked to positive outcomes for preteens. Based on the latest research and experience in the field, P/PV developed the publication, Putting It All Together: Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens, along with a companion Resource Guide (http://www.lpfch.org/afterschool/resourceguide.html) that includes links to research and tools to strengthen programs.
Putting It All Together focuses on six after-school program components associated with positive outcomes for preteens:
- Focused and Intentional Strategy: Programs have a clear set of goals, target specific skills, and deliberately plan all aspects of the program with a youth development framework in mind.
- Exposure: Programs are designed to: a) provide preteens with a sufficient number of hours per week over an extended period of time, that matches program outcome goals; and b) allow preteens to attend a variety of activities.
- Supportive Relationships: Programs emphasize positive adult-youth relationships regardless of the curriculum.
- Family Engagement: Programs strive to include families through various strategies, such as clear communication and a welcoming environment.
- Cultural Competence: Programs have diverse staff whose backgrounds are reflective of participants and who create practices and policies that: a) make services available to and inclusive of a variety of populations; and b) help participants understand and value a broad range of cultures.
- Continuous Program Improvement: Programs strengthen quality through an ongoing and integrated process of targeted staff training, coaching and monitoring, and data collection and analysis.
While a host of factors, including organizational capacity, the needs of the youth served and the resources available, all play a role in determining a program's ability to achieve its goals, research suggests that these guiding principles are essential for program quality. That quality, in turn, is the foundation for positive results for youth.
NOTE: This version of Putting It All Together contains a full list of endnotes and references, which we chose to omit from hard copies of the report, in the interest of brevity.