LANDER, WY—The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, an initiative of the Wyoming Community Foundation, has just finished year two of a three-year grant from the Mott Foundation with matching funds from the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Department of Family Services, and the John P. Ellbogen Foundation to conduct a research project surveying the capacity of the public and private afterschool systems and to assess their effectiveness across Wyoming.
The Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) is partnering with the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women in Wellesley, MA and The Third Mile Group of Denver, CO to complete this initiative.
Following a requisite “needs assessment” phase, Phase II of the project involved piloting the NIOST Afterschool Program Assessment System (APAS) in a group of Wyoming afterschool sites. Youth workers at the sites were trained by NIOST staff in the use of APAS with additional coaching and support provided by fifteen (15) experienced Quality Advisors trained by NIOST from across the state. Each site received comprehensive, customized reports based on their data and created action plans to help guide their program improvement efforts.
This first year of Phase II has already shown some early successes. Youths’ engagement in learning and relations with adults appears to have improved over the program year. This is significant because research has found powerful links between youths’ levels of engagement and their achievement and persistence in school. Similarly, research shows that youth who have a supportive stable relationship with an adult are more resilient to stress, have healthy development, perform well in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
All participating programs and their assigned Quality Advisors believe that the Initiative has increased their level of awareness of what defines “quality.” As a result, intentional improvement strategies have been implemented due to the use of the APAS tools. One participant responded, “I think it forces me and my staff to step back and look at our program from a different perspective and think about areas we can improve…by using SAYO and APT, I see areas needing improvement that I may not have otherwise taken the time to look at.”
Based on these early findings, WYAA and NIOST are discussing important next steps to continue additional training and support for the program sites in order to reinforce use of APAS. The vision of the WYAA is to be able to offer curriculum via online learning modules in the near future that will ultimately lead to a professional credential for the Wyoming Youth Development Worker.
For a more complete brief on this visit either the NIOST or WYAA website. For more information on the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, visit: http://www.wyafterschoolalliance.org/.
For more information on the National Institute on Out-of-School Time, visit: http://www.niost.org/.
For more information on the Third Mile Group, visit: http://www.thirdmilegroup.com/.