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Parents Learning Why Quality Matters

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under School's Out News

It’s hard to believe that September is already upon us. With the start of fall comes the excitement of kids heading back to school and back to afterschool! I know how thrilled my son is to reunite with his friends, play lots of soccer on the playground, and return to his beloved afterschool program at the Coho Kids Time through the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

As a working parent and professional in the youth-serving field, I comforted knowing that my son’s time during the afterschool hours is spent in a positive environment where afterschool program staff support his continued learning, physical activity and social-emotional growth. His afterschool program is one of hundreds across the state engaged in the Youth Program Quality Initiative focused on achieving positive youth outcomes through a quality improvement effort based in research and best practice.

Word of the importance of quality afterschool programs is spreading among parents and families. This month, the magazine Parent Map published the first in a 9-month series of articles on the importance of quality in afterschool programs, made possible with funding from the Raikes Foundation and in partnership with School’s Out Washington.

After-School Special: Kids & Quality Programs explores how the newly released Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs, are impacting the quality of afterschool programs serving about 134,000 youth after the school bell rings.  Parent Map’s series provides an opportunity to explore and communicate to parents and community members how supporting quality in fact makes a real difference for kids!

As a growing body of research shows the importance of quality, School’s Out Washington has worked with partners across the state to build a Quality Improvement System which includes the Washington State Core Competencies for Child and Youth Development Professionals, high-quality professional development opportunities such as training and coaching, quality assessment, and most recently a set of Quality Standards for Washington State Afterschool and Youth Development Programs. After five years of engaging programs in this intentional quality work, we see that program staff and youth are experiencing positive outcomes and quality is making a difference!

More articles in this series are coming over the next eight months. In the meantime, why not improve the quality of your work with youth? Check-out School’s Out Washington’s professional development offerings for updates on workshops and other ways to engage in our quality efforts.

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