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Guest blog: Building protective and promotive factors in afterschool

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Guest blog: Building protective and promotive factors in afterschool

By Jessica Bartlett, MSW, PhD, is Co-Director of Early Childhood Research at Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families.

High-quality afterschool programs can enhance the overall health and development of students by helping build and foster protective and promotive factors–conditions or features within an individual, family, or community that buffer children and youth against the negative effects of adversity and trauma and that enhance the likelihood of positive development. A new white paper, released by Child Trends, the Claremont Evaluation Center, and LA’s BEST afterschool program examines positive youth development in the afterschool context, with a particular focus on supporting malleable protective and promotive factors that help to reduce students’ risk for substance misuse/abuse, problem behaviors, and poor academic performance and dropout.

The white paper, Promising Practices for Building Protective and Promotive Factors to Support Positive Youth Development in Afterschool, provides program leaders, policymakers, and other afterschool stakeholders with a shared approach to strengthening afterschool supports for youth.

Through a comprehensive literature review, Child Trends and Claremont Evaluation Center researchers identified 12 protective and promotive factors linked to the prevention of negative outcomes (substance abuse and problem behaviors), and promotion of positive outcomes (better academic performance) in afterschool. Researchers then highlighted strategies for how afterschool programs can engage in a variety of evidence-informed practices to counteract youth’s risk for these outcomes. Findings suggest that there are several strategies that are necessary to promote these 12 factors.

Strategies for Afterschool Programs to Promote Protective and Promotive Factors for Youth who are At Risk for substance abuse/misuse, problem behaviors, and poor academic performance and dropout:

  1. Engage in intentional organizational practices, including hiring staff who can connect with youth effectively, training staff on how to help youth develop self-regulation and emotional awareness, fostering connections between afterschool staff and teachers, and developing relationships with broader networks and institutions in the community that can help support youth.
  2. Create high-quality learning environments that ensure that youth have choices, autonomy, and opportunities for leadership, that offer safe and supportive learning environments for developing and practicing new skills, and that offer a wide range of activities that appeal to youth’s different strengths and interests.
  3. Build supportive and nurturing relationships with youth that celebrate each youth’s unique identities, contributions, and strengths, that clearly communicate rules and expectations and hold youth accountable to them, and that create and reinforce norms for prosocial behavior.
  4. Engage in activities that intentionally and explicitly focus on youth skill development for youth to learn about, practice, and develop emotional self-regulation and awareness, problem-solving, and relational skills. 

Importantly, researchers found that the size of the effects (i.e., the extent of the impacts) of protective and promotive factors were relatively small, indicating that targeting any single factor alone would not be as effective as focusing on multiple factors at once.

Read the full white paper here to learn more about how afterschool programs can build protective and promotive factors for youth.

Data on child well-being: How does the nation measure up?

Understanding how our youth are faring is an important aspect of not only reinforcing, but also strengthening the supports that afterschool provides. Two separate reports released this summer delved into the state of child well-being across the country, measuring our nation’s progress over...

BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

To elevate equity, diversity, and inclusion, go deeper into your quality standards

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BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part III

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the tenth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of the...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part I

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the eighth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at earlier posts of...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/01/19

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BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

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BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/05/18

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

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BY: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

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Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

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BY: Rina Moss      01/11/19

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By Selena Levy, director of Training at California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC).  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond....

BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

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Awareness of the importance of social and emotional learning is beginning to be reflected in policy measures. Practitioners and policymakers alike are continually recognizing that a whole-child approach is necessary for children to be well-positioned to succeed in their academic, personal, and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      02/08/19

Afterschool, community partners featured in Aspen Institute’s "Nation At Hope" report

Today’s youth must navigate a complex, economically competitive, and globally connected world. In efforts to help young people thrive, educators, parents, and leaders have historically focused on academic improvement as the key target for future success. But that’s not the whole...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/15/19

New issue brief: A big-picture approach to wellness

From empowering students to take charge of their health to training staff to model healthy behaviors, afterschool and summer learning programs across the country are offering safe and supportive environments that promote young people’s healthy eating and physical activity, as well as build...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

Afterschool turns the peak time for crime into a time of opportunity for young people

For close to 20 years, we at the Afterschool Alliance have been dedicated to the cause of expanding afterschool opportunities because we know the life changing impact programs can have on children, on families, and on communities.  Today, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a new report that...

BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/24/19

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By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people.  Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/26/18

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By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

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