Program Quality Initiative
School’s Out Washington believes that quality doesn’t occur by accident. Some people may have a natural talent for connecting with youth or organizing fun activities, but ensuring that school-age children and youth are getting the best possible experience from a program takes intentionality.
Much research has been done in recent years to identify the program components that correlate to better outcomes for kids in one aspect or another. The focus of this research may be anything from academic outcomes to social/emotional health to increased attendance rates to generally positive experience. Some program components, like staff-youth relationships, appear as key items across several quality studies.
Youth Program Quality Initiative
School’s Out Washington is very excited to be leading the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI), in partnership with the Raikes Foundation, whose mission is to provide opportunities and support during adolescence to help young people become healthy, contributing adults. As literature from the Raikes Foundation states, “the Youth Program Quality Initiative will support programs by providing funding and the opportunity to engage staff in an intensive professional development process that reflects best practices in the field of youth development.
School's Out Washington has created the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs to support Washington State programs in achieving positive youth outcomes by providing staff with guidelines for what quality looks like in a program setting.
Who is using PQI?
School’s Out Washington is currently supporting the Raikes Foundation Youth Program Quality Initiative which focuses on organizations providing out-of-school time programs in King, Pierce and Spokane Counties. While it is important that youth have access to positive developmental opportunities in all settings, research shows that youth engaged in high quality programs during out-of-school hours gain social, emotional, and intellectual benefits.
Congratulations to the following programs, who have been selected to participate in the 2013 cohorts:
The following programs began participation in 2012:
The Greater Tacoma Community
Youth Program Quality Assessment
The David P. Weikart Center's Approach
As described by the Weikart Center, their "youth development approach is based in positive youth development research. The approach, as represented in the pyramid above, is premised on the belief that it is job of the Youth Worker to set up an environment for youth in which needs are met and learning is encouraged—to create a space in which youth can thrive. The pyramid provides a way to organize the many, many things a youth worker does to build a great experience for young people."
The YPQI is built to improve quality at the point of service, that is, where youth, adults and resources come together. It is built around the research validated Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQ) which contains the quality items in the pyramid above.
Lasting quality improvement requires more than what you get in a typical training. That’s why the Weikart Center helps youth programs establish quality improvement systems to support staff. Our improvement approach is based on the assess-plan-improve sequence:
How the YPQA Process Affected One Community
From the Weikart Center, "This inspiring 12-minute video documents how the Georgetown Divide, a small community in the Sierra foothills of Northern California has embraced a positive youth development approach across the settings where youth spend time and has anchored that commitment through widespread use of the Youth Program Quality Assessment."