Researchers at Child Trends, the Claremont Evaluation Center, and LA’s BEST—a large afterschool program in Los Angeles—have developed a white paper for program leaders, policymakers, and other afterschool stakeholders that examines promising practices for promoting positive youth development in afterschool programs.
The research team conducted a review of the literature (limited to meta-analyses) on protective and promotive factors that (1) support positive developmental outcomes among youth, (2) are malleable through intervention, and (3) have direct relevance to the afterschool context. The literature review highlighted four categories of actionable, evidence-informed practices that afterschool program leadership and staff can implement to build protective and promotive factors. The four categories are as follows:
- Intentional organizational practices: practices that afterschool leadership can purposefully utilize to support the implementation of high-quality programming in afterschool programs (e.g., leadership engages in thoughtful staff hiring, onboarding, and training practices; leadership fosters collaboration among staff and across settings).
- High-quality learning environments: practices fostered by staff that can create afterschool environments in which youth feel physically and emotionally safe and supported in various domains of development (e.g., staff offer a variety of activities that align with diverse needs and interests of youth; staff facilitate small, interactive groups).
- Supportive and nurturing relationships:practices that enhance staff members’ interactions and communications with, and responses to, youth enrolled in afterschool programs (e.g., staff model and reinforce positive behaviors, empower youth to discover and embrace their unique identities, set and enforce clear rules and expectations).
- Intentional and explicit focus on youth skill development: staff can focus on this area through concrete supports that help youth develop malleable individual characteristics and competencies (e.g., supporting the use of effective problem-solving skills, helping children develop positive interpersonal relationship skills, and working with children to develop their understanding of emotions).
Source (Open Access):Berry, T., Teachanarong-Aragon, L., Sloper, M., Bartlett, J. D., & Steber, K. (2018). LA’s BEST: Protective factors afterschool project. Retrieved from Claremont Evaluation Center, Claremont Graduate University website http://www.cgu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Berry_LAsBest_WhitePaper.pdf.