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

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

By Femi Vance, researcher at American Institutes for Research, Board President for the California School-Age Consortium, Field Consultant for the National Summer Learning Association, and editor of Changemakers! Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs.

Implementing high-quality afterschool programming at scale requires a well-designed and well-built infrastructure for programs, afterschool professionals, families, and youth. Quality standards are the cornerstone of the system because they create a shared vision of and establish a common language to discuss quality. While nearly all states have developed quality standards1, that is just the first step. Quality standards are meant to guide implementation for all stakeholders: afterschool practitioners have to be aware of and understand the standards, the field needs ways to measure quality as it relates to the standards, and programs and staff needed training, tools, and resources to improve practice and programming.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion is one standard shared by many of the existing quality standards2. Equity, diversity, and inclusion practices show up in core competencies for practitioners3, 4, a resource that defines the knowledge skills and resources of a skilled afterschool professional (e.g., National Afterschool Association Core Competencies, Charles Stewart Mott Core Competencies for Afterschool Educators). Much of the language about equity, diversity, and inclusion in these foundational tools describes how programs and practitioners can learn about their own and others’ cultural beliefs and traditions, show and maintain respect for different cultures, and create environments where everyone feels safe, welcomed, and can participate. That’s a really good start.

Infusing equity, diversity, and inclusion practices into programs can require complex problem-solving. Recently, I was privy to a critique of an afterschool curriculum. The reviewer noted that the curriculum used research-based best practices but also tacitly endorsed a dominant set of cultural values and practices by not engaging young people in the work of examining and exploring why and how institutional practices, beliefs, and values can marginalize and oppress individuals and communities, including themselves. When the curriculum simply asked youth to persist and try harder despite dominant practices that perpetuate systemic racism, sexism, ableism, and more—it inadvertently legitimized those practices and the underlying beliefs and values. It also positioned dominant practices as unchangeable obstacles to overcome.

We can take equity, diversity, and inclusion a step further by acknowledging the need for practitioners, youth, and families to identify when and how behaviors, activities, materials, and processes marginalize specific groups of people. In my experience, we rarely give young people (or adults for that matter) opportunities to express their experience with being or witnessing marginalization, and even fewer opportunities to discover how the “norm” negates the voices of those who stand outside of those boundaries.

The critique was illuminating because it showed how even the frameworks we use to help youth develop new skills can unintentionally reinforce the status quo – and offered insight into how to apply equity, diversity, and inclusion standards in a more expansive and thoughtful way.

Having high-quality afterschool programming means we must investigate, reimagine, and revise quality standards about equity, diversity, and inclusion, especially as we incorporate staff and youth’s development of an equity lens. Frequent critical engagement around equity, diversity, and inclusion will foster much-needed dialogue about the resistance we encounter to achieving our ideals—indeed, the very act of critically and deeply engaging with each facet of these issues will open up the path for our field to meet our own standards.

 

References

1 Singer, J., Newman, J., & Moroney, D. (2017). Chapter 14. Building Quality in Out-of-School Time. In The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future. Information Age Publishing.

2 Ibid.

3 Starr, B., Yohalem, N., & Gannett, E. (2009). Youth work core competencies: A review of existing frameworks and purposes. Seattle, Washington: Next Generation Youth Work Coalition.

4 Vance, F. (2010). A comparative analysis of competency frameworks for youth workers in the out-of-school time field. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(6), 421-441. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9116-4

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

By Femi Vance, researcher at American Institutes for Research, Board President for the California School-Age Consortium, Field Consultant for the National Summer Learning Association, and editor of Changemakers! Equity and Access in Out-of-School Time Programs. Implementing high-quality...

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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With more than 10 million children participating in afterschool programming, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. hold crucial potential for academic, social, and emotional development that extends well beyond the school day. So how can we ensure that more students have access to high quality afterschool...

BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/05/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      11/01/19

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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: Marisa Paipongna      11/26/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

Afterschool Spotlight: YWCA New Britain - House of Teens

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/16/19

New issue brief showcasing afterschool promoting civic engagement

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      11/01/18

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BY: Leah Silverberg      07/10/18

Afterschool's lasting impact: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin

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      06/25/18

Making the most of research partnerships for advancements in afterschool

A brief recently released by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), “Research Partnerships are Key to Improving Practice,” highlights research partnerships and their importance in improving both policy and practice in education. As the brief states, research partnerships—diverse...

BY: Bella DiMarco      04/09/20

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

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

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A new survey study released by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), 2018 Out-of-School Time Report, highlights the multitude of ways that local park and recreation before school, afterschool, and summer programs are positively impacting the lives of children and their families. With...

BY: Rina Moss      01/11/19

What resources do staff need to support youth mental health and wellness?

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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

Afterschool after 30 years: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin, part II

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

Afterschool's lasting impact: Q&A with Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin

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      06/25/18