Promoting positive youth development in afterschool programmes

Researchers at Child Trends, the Claremont Evaluation Center, and LA’s BEST—a large afterschool programme for children aged 5 to 12, in Los Angeles—have developed a white paper for programme leaders, policymakers and other afterschool stakeholders that examines promising practices for promoting positive youth development in afterschool programmes.

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 young people, (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 programme leadership and staff can implement to build protective and promotive factors. The four categories are as follows:

  • Intentional organisational practices: practices that afterschool leadership can purposefully utilise to support the implementation of high-quality programming in afterschool programmes (eg, 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 young people feel physically and emotionally safe and supported in various domains of development (eg, staff offer a variety of activities that align with diverse needs and interests of young people; staff facilitate small, interactive groups).
  • Supportive and nurturing relationships: practices that enhance staff members’ interactions and communications with, and responses to, young people enrolled in afterschool programmes (eg, staff model and reinforce positive behaviours, 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 young people develop malleable individual characteristics and competencies (eg, 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: Promising practices for building protective and promotive factors to support positive youth development in afterschool (November 2018), Claremont Evaluation Center, Claremont Graduate University