April Afterzone Article – NAA Supporting Quality Professional Development
The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) is the national professional membership
association for people who work with and on behalf of youth during out-of-school time. We contribute to young people’s success by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders. While we work at the national level, our state affiliates, who share similar values, (like OregonASK) work at the state level to promote quality afterschool programs and professional development. The state affiliations provide a variety of perspectives that help inform NAA’s strategy, while bringing professionals from affiliate states into the national movement—strengthening the development of the afterschool profession. The collective impact of the NAA affiliates can be seen in the 2018 Stronger Together Report.
In 2018, there were approximately 10.2 million young people in afterschool programs, along with 850,000 afterschool professionals. For every young person in an afterschool program, there are two more waiting to get in. If the quality afterschool for all young people goal is met, we will need another 850,000 skilled professionals—further demonstrating the need for developing a strong afterschool workforce.
Research shows that skilled staff are the linchpin to the program quality that produces positive youth outcomes. That’s why NAA focuses on supporting the afterschool professionals and leaders that work with and on behalf of young people. As a field, we’ve grappled with aspects of professional development—whether about funding or building a culture of professionalism that expects PD regularly in order to provide the best practice one can. These are demonstrated in The Systemic Disregard for Frontline Staff,
Program Staff are Our Most Valuable Asset, Act Accordingly, or Support Kids Less than Queso? Don’t Think So.
Last year, we wrote a chapter of The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future with Melissa Fenton from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and generated five recommendations for building common knowledge and competencies for the afterschool workforce. These recommendations were created through adoption and implementation of the NAAs Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool Professionals:
- Generate stronger evidence to strengthen the out-of-school time (OST) workforce.
- Increase political will and financing for professionalizing the workforce.
- Provide equitable access to high-quality professional development and learning.
- Create systems to recruit, retain and advance the leadership of the profession.
- Promote the vision of a cohesive and comprehensive workforce that includes
individuals working in diverse OST settings.
Read more details and find out how to access the chapter here. If you are especially interested in strengthening the overall afterschool workforce, you might enjoy Strengthening the School-Age Workforce or Strengthening the OST Workforce.
We know afterschool professionals and leaders want to be inspired, to connect, to share and to learn. We also know that with the support of our association, state affiliates and each other, those in the afterschool profession can focus their energies on proactively supporting the mental health and emotional and physical safety of young people.
- In the power of afterschool and the people who work with and on behalf of children and youth during out-of-school time.
- That the passionate people in the afterschool profession are the key to building our
future and the future of millions of kids.
- That when adults invest quality time and compassion in young people, our youth rise to the challenge of making the world a better place for themselves and others.
- That afterschool makes a difference in the lives of young people, our communities and our nation.
- That strong afterschool leaders develop the skilled professionals and teams that run
strong organizations and quality programs that result in positive youth outcomes.
- Afterschool is powerful today and has the potential to be even more so in the future.
- The power of afterschool and we believe in you!
That’s why over the course of the next year and beyond, afterschool professionals and leaders can expect more efforts to build the profession and resources that support afterschool professionals and leaders. If you have a passion for positive youth outcomes, value your development and the development of others, constantly strive for quality, and want to belong to the movement that’s advancing the profession … continue to engage with OregonASK and join us.
Don’t wait for good PD, go out and find it!
Written by Heidi Ham, NAA’s Vice President of Programs and Strategy.