Researchers gathered economists, policy-makers, and funders to develop several recommendations for building a skilled and stable workforce for After School Programs.
AED Center for Youth Development and Policy Research:
Richard Murphy, director
Read the three recommendations and join the growing list of organizations that have signed on to the strategic plan (PDF - 34kb)
Strategic Planning and Dissemination
NIOST and the AED Center for Youth Development and Policy Research have completed a strategic plan for workforce development for the out-of-school time field. We are currently conducting focus groups with the front line staff and directors of out-of-school time programs. With their input, we plan to finalize the recommendations in the strategic plan and begin dissemination and outreach efforts early this year.
Process for Developing the Strategic Plan
This strategic plan is the culmination of two years of targeted research, discussion, and investigation by NIOST and the Center in partnership with a national Advisory Committee. NIOST, which has traditionally focused on programs for school-age children, and the Center, which has historically worked on programs for older youth, have joined forces on this project in an effort to bridge the fields of school age care and youth work. There are great similarities in both the role they play in the lives of children, youth and families, and also in the construction of the fields themselves. By working together we are a louder and stronger voice for change.
NIOST and the Center began the Building a Skilled and Stable Workforce project in January 2001 by identifying key individuals such as economists, policy-makers, advocates and funders from across the country to join an Advisory Committee to help inform and guide the development of the plan. The goal in choosing members for the committee was to have representation from a broad diversity of fields and sectors that would give the plan a thorough treatment of differing perspectives. The value of hearing from multiple perspectives from the beginning has resulted in a strategic plan that is inclusive of input from people who have been working on these issues and have made good strides and some new and unlikely potential allies. This plan has become illustrative of broad-based thinking from individuals who understand the complexity of tackling this issue.
NIOST conducted an extensive literature review in order to gauge what data collection, workforce improvement models, public policy and advocacy efforts were already underway. In July 2001, NIOST and the Center co-hosted a National Youth Policy Forum, where the need for a "coherent national approach" to address the wage and professional development needs of youth workers was unanimously endorsed. Participants concluded that in order to effectively address the challenges within the out-of-school field, national, state and local strategies must be implemented.
Participants agreed on the key elements of a national strategy to move the field forward:
- Understanding the 'true costs' of financing the youth workforce, identifying what existing resources currently fund versus the actual costs
- Creating training programs, professional standards, and an accreditation process that will lead to professionalizing the out-of-school field and increased compensation
- Facilitating a dialogue and exchange of information within the out-of-school field that will provide youth workers and other stakeholders with the opportunity to examine initiatives in other communities throughout the nation
- Advocating for the needs of the out-of-school field at the local, state, and national level in order to create a national policy supporting youth workers
In April and October, 2002, NIOST and the Center convened additional Advisory Committee meetings to assist in the development of the strategic plan. The four points listed above helped to frame the initial meeting discussions and have been incorporated into this plan. In between meetings, NIOST and Center staff worked in task force groups to identify action steps in five areas: 1. Using data and research to make the case 2. Professionalizing the field 3. Learning from other fields 4. The true cost of financing 5. Building a movement These task force groups helped NIOST and the Center to crystallize the available information and to begin shaping a strategic plan that is reflective of the collective experience and wisdom of the group.
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