Policymakers increasingly view youth development and after-school programs as solutions to a host of problems confronting youth, communities and our country overall. Yet, funds for these programs as a whole are scarce and when resources are devoted to training or workforce development, they appear to be included as afterthoughts or minor priorities.
The Forum's OST Policy Commentary series is back! In this issue we discuss the implications of recent research led by Bart Hirsch, Reed Larson and Charles Smith. Each study helps deepen our understanding of youth work practice and can inform policy strategies aimed at developing a strong, stable, committed and prepared OST workforce.
By Karen Pittman, June 2005
More than fifteen years ago, I began using a twist on an old saying as a way to get discussions started about the status of youth work and youth workers in the United States. We all understand the disrespect shown to teachers and students in the adage: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Needing to communicate my message quickly, I added a third phrase: “Those who can’t teach do youth work.”
Over the past year, two comprehensive studies of youth workers were coordinated by the Next Generation Youth Work Coalition. Together, these two studies, conducted by the Forum for Youth Investment and the National Afterschool Association, capture the voices and perspectives of over 5,000 youth workers from across the country.