Description: Out-of-school time programs have expanded rapidly over the past 25 years, due to the need for safe activities for children and youth while their parents work.  Growing evidence suggests that participation in after school programs can have positive effects on academic, social and behavioral outcomes. These positive effects are often not realized, however, due to the need for improved programming.  Coaching, training, and both internal and external assessment provide a basis for increasing the quality of programs and the competencies of staff to achieve these positive outcomes for youth.  Drawing upon the Weikart Center’s evidence-based Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI), the quality improvement system is designed to build site coordinators’ skills to foster quality improvement, increase the quality of instruction, increase students’ engagement with program content, and improve student outcomes related to school success. The Institute for Human Development fulfills the primary role of conducting external assessments that guide programs in setting their goals for program quality improvement and staff development. As of 2014, the United Way of Greater Kansas City continue to work with 67 sites – including 7 school districts – to improve the quality of out-of-school time programs in Greater Kansas City.

 

Project Contact:               Kathryn L. Fuger, 816.235.5351, fugerk@umkc.edu

Project Period:                 2011-2014

Annual Funding:              $46,300

Funding Source:               United Way of Greater Kansas City


Core Functions

Applied Research:  IHD conducts external assessment of participating sites for the city-wide continuous quality improvement approach.  In collaboration with University of Kansas, IHD conducted a process evaluation during the early applications of this approach.

Community Services and Supports: IHD generates the data that informs the practices in the program sites, as well as the process evaluation findings that guide future program activities.  By serving on the Quality Matters Leadership Team and by convening with coaches regularly, IHD assists in ensuring fidelity to the approach.

Information Dissemination: IHD provides site-specific data that are aggregated for publications.

Interdisciplinary Personnel Preparation: Graduate student employees receive training to serve as external assessors.

 

Program Need and Historical Context

After-school and other out-of-school-time programs in Kansas City do not have accreditation standards for quality. Staff turnover tends to be high, and staff credentials are often low. Few staff have obtained the Youth Development Credential or taken college coursework in youth development and curriculum.

 

Significant Project Activities and Outcomes

This project aims to engage youth programs in a quality improvement initiative, which involves pre/post external program assessment, self-assessment, access to staff training, and coaching for program personnel. Findings are analyzed for both program quality improvement purposes and applied research to determine benefits of the interventions.

 

Institute’s Role

IHD faculty, staff and consultants conduct external assessments of participating programs. They participate on the leadership team in overall project design. They collaborate with the United Way of Greater Kansas City, the Weikart Center, the University of Kansas, and the Francis Institute in the publishing of findings. During 2011-2012, IHD staff and University of Kansas staff also conducted a process evaluation to determine the next steps of the initiative. Key informant interviews of site coordinators and focus groups of front-line staff were conducted, and the transcripts were analyzed. The final report notes the benefits, the lessons learned, and the implications of the work conducted to date.

 

Unusual Features

The United Way has elected to invest in the project as a direct way to address poverty, in addition to finding other community-based programs. Partnership with the Weikart Center allows the replication of an evidence-based curricular and assessment approach in Kansas City. IHD faculty meet monthly with coaches to coordinate activities and to provide formative evaluation information.

 

Impact

  • Quality of youth development programs in Kansas City will improve due to external assessments, self-assessments, coaching, and training provided for administration
  • Youth development staff will access training and increase their competencies and youth development credentials
  • Youth will demonstrate benefits of program participation