Program Quality News: September 3, 2020

The Forum for Youth Investment Announces Participation in National Evaluation to Inform the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

The Forum for Youth Investment’s Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality is excited to announce its participation in a new national evaluation to inform the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program being undertaken by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The Weikart Center will support the implementation of a continuous quality improvement (CQI) system designed for use with a sample of 21st CCLC afterschool programs that vary in the activities they provide (e.g., STEM, sports, the arts) but share a commitment to improving their participants’ social and emotional skills. The Weikart Center’s success at designing, evaluating, and supporting the implementation of the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) with over 140 state and local afterschool systems and networks made it a logical candidate to support the CQI implementation components of this study. Mathematica is IES’s selected evaluation partner.

The Forum applauds IES’s decision to evaluate a continuous program quality improvement system versus a specific curriculum approach (e.g., STEM) designed to achieve outcomes. It reflects their desire to produce an evaluation that speaks directly to the interests of the field.

“It is important that this impact study, in contrast to the 2005 study, is not an up or down vote on the 21st CCLC program,” says Karen Pittman, the Forum’s president, CEO, and co-founder. “The verdict is in: Afterschool programs are a critical part of our country’s capacity to maximize learning and development opportunities, especially for children from low-income families. We know that quality counts, so the question isn’t whether to fund afterschool programs, but how to support program improvement.”

Continue reading the press release for more on the CQI impact study.



Events & Opportunities

Mini-CQI for Youth Programs: Keeping the Learning Going in the Midst of Disruption

Free Webinar
Thursday, September 10, 2020
1:00-2:00 PM EDT

The past six months have brought significant disruption and trauma to communities grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice. The youth field has rallied to minimize disruptions by identifying solutions for socially distanced learning and virtual programming. While the logistics for out-of-school programs have changed, youth development professionals continue to prioritize the importance of core principles such as safety, supportive relationships, opportunity, and youth voice.

As we gain clarity about how programs will likely operate this year, organizational learning fueled by continuous quality improvement is another core principle of youth programs to be mindful of. As programs face this sharp learning curve, recommitting to ongoing continuous improvement activities is critical to identify new best practices that will help youth thrive. This dynamic environment requires that we revisit our goals, metrics, and processes to align with the evolution of our program decisions, as well as adopt an iterative approach to continuous quality improvement that will allow organizations to be more agile and flexible in response to uncertainty.

In this session, Corey Newhouse (Public Profit), Krista Collins (The Weikart Center), and George Hernandez (a seasoned youth program practitioner) will discuss strategies for “mini CQI,” why continuous improvement still matters, how to keep your team focused, and learning from the data you have.

Fill out this form to join the webinar.



Advancing the Use of “Core Components” Approaches: Suggestions for Researchers Publishing Evaluation Results

Free Webinar
Thursday, September 10, 2020
2:00-3:30 PM EDT

A “core components” approach to evidence-based programming for youth focuses on implementing parts, features, attributes, or characteristics of programs shown to be effective, while allowing flexibility in other aspects that can be designed to meet community or population needs. These approaches rely upon systematic reviews and meta-analyses to identify whether hypothesized core components empirically predict improvement in desired outcomes. Much data that could be instrumental for such testing is not routinely made available through “regular channels” for reporting program evaluation or study results. This webinar will feature a panelist of speakers who will identify categories of data important to collect and report on that would advance core components approaches. It will also engage audience members in a discussion about how best to incentivize researchers, journal editors, and others to make more complete and detailed information available to identify, test, and scale up core components of effective programs.

Register here.



Ignite Session: Best Practices for Operating OST Programs Under COVID-19

Free Training Session
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Join Newark Thrives! for a free interactive training opportunity on best practices for operating OST programs under COVID-19 that will feature a panel discussion with speakers from Prime Time Palm Beach County, Providence After School Alliance, Every Hour Counts, National Afterschool Association, and After-School All-Stars.

Register here.




SEL+OST=Perfect Together

Afterschool, summer, and other out-of-school-time programs can be ideal settings for children to learn and build social and emotional well-being- when skilled and trusted adults are there to guide them, according to this conference report from the Wallace Foundation. In October 2019, youth development leaders, researchers, and educators gathered in Chicago to look at two of the field’s biggest challenges: developing the ability of adults to teach social and emotional skills and communicating the importance of those skills to those who may be unaware of how vital they are.

Download the report.