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Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Update

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

By Lex Gavin, BSK Program Quality Coordinator

The Best Starts for Kids (BSK) project is officially underway! After the BSK Grantee Orientation in January, organizations funded through this grant had a little time to catch their breath before a busy few weeks of training commenced.

Phase 2 organizations, which are grantees who are Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) veterans, had their Kickoff in early March where they were reminded of SOWA’s Assess, Plan, Improve model. Soon thereafter they went through the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Program Quality Assessment (PQA) Basics Training-- we love acronyms at SOWA!

The PQA is the specific tool that we use to measure the strengths and growth areas of a given program, and SEL is the framework through which a program is measured. This is a new tool for our networks, so there was a lot of brainpower generated in the room as program staff became more familiar with SEL standards. Organizations were so excited to send representatives to our Basics trainings that we offered two separate days of instruction for our grantees. Some program staff even had an opportunity to meet with their assigned coaches at the trainings.

Phase 1 organizations, or grantees who are new to the YPQI process or whose programming timelines needed more time to implement, had the first of two pre-trainings in March to familiarize them with SOWA’s quality improvement processes, language, and tactics. While it was a lot of information to take in, grantees were excited to get the ball rolling and were looking forward to the second pre-training in April once they digested the content. Readiness coaches were present at the event to begin building relationships and learning about their respective sites.

Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC) also was in the mix, providing the first of two trainings around data and evaluation. Instead of splitting our grantees into their phases for these trainings, we decided to meet with them as POC-Led organizations and as Place-Based collaboratives given that the nature of the questions and concerns that might come up would be very different between the two tactics.

Between the first and second YDEKC trainings, SOWA staff Lauren Leary and Omana Imani are meeting with each organization or collaborative to make sure that they have all of the information they need around reporting and are on track to meet all deliverables.

I’m sure that organizations are looking forward to a slightly more mellow training schedule this month-- both of the Part 2 trainings will happen, as well as SOWA’s Structural Racism training, and then Phase 2 organizations will be focused on assessments and Phase 1 organization will continue gearing up for the beginning of their programs.

The BSK team at SOWA continues to be inspired by the life-changing work we get to support through this initiative.


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