New Guide for Afterschool Leaders

The Forum for Youth Investment released a first-of-its-kind guide to help cities and communities strengthen and sustain quality in afterschool programs. “Building Citywide Systems for Quality: A Guide and Case Studies for Afterschool Leaders” explains how afterschool programs can use a quality improvement system (QIS) to raise the quality of afterschool programming in an ongoing, organized fashion.

In using a QIS, the guide says, organizations emphasize an approach of “continuous improvement.” The guide recommends that afterschool programs using the QIS system should: regularly take stock of themselves against a standard; develop plans to improve based on what they learned; carry out those plans; and begin the cycle over again so that the quality of work is always improving.

“Building Citywide Systems for Quality” was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation. The guide is based on decades of social science research on child development, education and organizational management, as well as the Forum for Youth Investment’s experience working with more than 70 afterschool programs around the country.

“Community leaders are drawn to improving quality because higher-quality programs will mean better experiences for kids and because quality is uneven across and even within afterschool programs,” said Nicole Yohalem, the Forum’s director of special projects and the guide’s lead author. “This guide for the first time explains how communities can get started building a QIS or how to further develop existing efforts.”

“Millions of parents and guardians rely on afterschool programs to provide their children safe and enriching experiences that build academic, social and emotional attributes and skills. However, those benefits don’t come unless programs are of high quality,” said Lucas Held, director of communications at the Wallace Foundation. “This guide is the first to describe how cities and intermediaries can work with afterschool providers across an entire neighborhood, city or region to build quality system-wide, and is part of our effort to share lessons nationwide about effective afterschool systems.”

Click here to download a free copy of the guide.

This story originally appeared in the Afterschool Advocate (Vol. 13, Issue 11).

Click here to read the rest of this issue.