Supporting Quality Youth Programs
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.
School’s Out Washington is building a quality improvement system in Washington State, helping afterschool and youth development programs be the best they can be,so that kids can have the opportunities they deserve to succeed.
To do this, we promote quality standards and offer professional development training and coaching for afterschool and youth development program staff. The Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs provide a research-based set of guidelines to demonstrate what quality looks like in a program setting with aligned measurement tools and processes in place to support programs in going through a quality improvement effort. School’s Out Washington provides various tools and resources to help programs use these standards make their programs better.
What Is a Quality Program?
Every day we see youth in our programs growing confidence, skills and abilities. But how do we know our programs are really working?
Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs define what quality youth programming looks like.
Measuring Program Quality
Program Quality Assessments (PQA) are tools designed to assess the quality of youth programs and identify staff training needs. They measure youth access to key developmental experiences and can be used to compare the improvement of a program over time.
Youth Program Quality Initiative
The Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) engages youth programs in a years-long process of quality improvement. Participants engage in a data-driven professional development process that includes assessment, planning, training, connecting with a community of their peers, and coaching.
The Impact of Quality Programs
The benefits of a quality improvement process extends not just to the staff who participate, but to their colleagues, program, and organization, and particularly to the young people who are everyone's priority.
Through a hub regional model, three organizations in addition to School's Out Washington have played a foundational role in developing the Youth Program Quality Initiative and implementing it to raise the quality of youth-serving organizations across Washington since 2009.
The Raikes Foundation, a Seattle-based family foundation established in 2002, empowers young people to transform their lives. The Foundation has invested in strengthening the quality of afterschool programs in Washington state since 2009 and helped launch the Youth Program Quality Initiative. The Raikes Foundation is partnering with local organizations and funders to expand the reach of the YPQI.
Spokane County United Way is a non-profit organization that works with individuals, non-profits, government, businesses and community partners to improve systems so that individuals have the support they need to succeed. Investing in high-quality afterschool programs is one of their key strategies to help children and youth succeed in school and in life. As the hub organization for the YPQI process in Spokane County, they select new participants and support the local learning community.
The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization and trusted partner with the Pierce County community, connecting people who care with causes that matter. By leveraging community funds, the Community Foundation provides effective, long-term social investment strategies to donors and the people of Pierce County in order to address emerging issues facing the community. In 2011, the Community Foundation partnered with the Raikes Foundation and School’s Out Washington to deliver the YPQI in Pierce County.