The following is an excerpt from “Youth Fields Workforce Perspectives” in the latest issue of Afterschool Matters, published by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST).
The place of out-of-school time programming in supporting young people’s learning and growth is well established. Yet little is known about the staff and volunteers who support young people in school- and community-based afterschool programs, summer camps, national and local youth-serving organizations, and more.
The Youth Fields Workforce Study is a national effort to explore, define, and elevate the work of professionals and volunteers in an expansive range of youth-serving organizations. With support from The Wallace Foundation, the American Institutes for Research led a constellation of partners, including the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), in this study of the youth fields workforce.
In addition to highlighting the experiences and opinions of youth-serving professionals, each Perspective points to promising directions for future research, policy, and practice.
A major part of the study is the Power of Us Workforce Survey, designed to learn about youth workers and their experiences in the field. The survey, which ran from February 2022 through March 2023, gathered data from thousands of youth fields professionals across the country. In addition to soliciting detailed demographic information about respondents, the survey asked about respondents’ current role and type of organization, career trajectory, professional learning opportunities, experiences on the job, professional values and needs, and professional certifications and associations.
A series of Perspectives, developed by NIOST researchers, supplements the data from the survey.
Based on interviews with youth-serving professionals, the Perspectives highlight the broad range of voices in the youth fields workforce. Its goals are to:
- Deepen insight into the data from the Power of Us survey
- Explore the nuances of youth professionals’ work experiences
- Elevate practitioners’ voices, highlighting their experiences and challenges
- Investigate similarities and differences in youth work in diverse employment sectors
- Raise awareness of this workforce and its value
We call this series Perspectives because it captures the perspectives of youth fields professionals on critical workforce issues. Each Perspective explores a single workforce issue or sector:
Perspective 1: Community institutions
Perspective 2: Summer
Perspective 3: Entry points and recruitment
Perspective 4: Compensation
Perspective 5: Career pathways
Perspective 6: Recommendations
In addition to highlighting the experiences and opinions of youth-serving profession- als, each Perspective points to promising directions for future research, policy, and practice. Our hope is that the findings from our interviews, together with results from the Power of Us Workforce Survey, will inspire leaders and policymakers to better support this vital workforce in transform- ing the lives of young people.
Authors include Elizabeth Starr, Research Associate, NIOST; Edward Franklin, President and CEO, Voice of Hope Ministries, Texas; Amy Franks, Associate Director of School and Family Engagement, Book Harvest, North Carolina; Georgia Hall, Ph.D., Director and Senior Research Scientist, NIOST; Patricia McGuiness-Carmichael, Research Associate, NIOST; Priscilla Parchia, Program Manager, Office of Expanded Learning, Oakland Unified School District, California; Vesna A. Karmelic-Pavlov, Consultant, NIOST; and Kate Walker, Ph.D., Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Read these Perspectives in the latest issue of Afterschool Matters, which can be found at www.niost.org/Afterschool-Matters-Journal.