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Article on Quality Standards Published by WA Recreation & Parks Association

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News

Check out this article on the Quality Standards published in the Washington Recreation & Parks Association enewsletter

Standards of Quality Matter in Helping Youth Succeed

A growing body of research shows that quality matters in positively impacting youth who participate in afterschool and youth development programs.  Many child and youth development professionals and organizational leaders strive for quality, but are missing a framework that provides staff with guidelines for what quality looks like as a practitioner and in a program setting.

Municipal parks and recreation staff, many of whom are WRPA members, represent one of the largest provider groups of afterschool and youth development programming across our state.  With such a significant impact on young people’s health and well-being, being aware of and engaging in processes to implement quality improvement practices into a program and organization can make a difference in the experience of both staff and youth participants.

School’s Out Washington recently published the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs, a research-based framework for providers to understand and measure program quality and plan for improvement. There are nine domains that together address key areas of quality for afterschool and youth development programs:

  1. Safety & Wellness
  2. Cultural Competency & Responsiveness
  3. Relationships
  4. Youth Leadership & Engagement
  5. Program & Activities
  6. Assessment, Planning & Improvement
  7. Ongoing Staff & Volunteer Development
  8. Leadership & Management
  9. Family, School & Community Connections

The Standards are voluntary and a recommended set of benchmarks that support programs serving youth ages five through adulthood. The goal is that afterschool and youth development programs will use the Standards as a tool to develop program quality. Standards are aligned with the Youth Program Quality Assessment tools developed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.

Members from WRPA participated in the initial community meetings that provided the springboard for the creation of the Quality Standards. The Standards are now being discussed among funders, municipal leaders and other key stakeholders as a way to ensure public and private funds are spent on high-quality programming for youth. While a great tool, building capacity to use the Standards in programs will take time. Programs should incorporate realistic and achievable goals in order to work toward meeting the Standards gradually.

The Quality Standards are available to download on School’s Out Washington’s website.

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