Monday, November 27, 2023

How to Talk with Kids About the War in Gaza and Israel


The news coverage of the Israel-Hamas war has shown war crimes on full display. These images, which include injured and dead children, are very disturbing, especially for young people. We understand that the war is very contentious with crimes against humanity being committed on both sides. Despite our thoughts on who is to blame, it is important to focus on the need for humanity when discussing this with kids. 

Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., is the Parenting Program Director of the Greater Good Science Center. She is a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships and children’s development of prosocial behaviors. In her article, How to Talk with Kids About the War in Gaza and Israel, (originally published by the Greater Good Science Center), she writes:

Parents and families across the world have been distressed by the war in Gaza and Israel. Those who are there (or who are connected to the people of the region) may grieve for loved ones who have been killed or fear harm and devastation. Parents everywhere struggle to understand what’s happening and how to feel about it, and to talk with our kids about the images as well as the absence of humanity and compassion they see in the news and on social media. 

In previous global conflicts, Greater Good turned to two researchers to gain insights about how to talk with kids about humanitarian crises. Abigail Gewirtz is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University; Shauna Tominey is a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University. Here are six tips adapted from two Greater Good articles about their work: “How to Talk with Kids About Scary News” and “Five Tips for Talking with Kids About What’s Going On in the World.” 

1. Tend to your own needs- “It’s not until you recognize what your stress level is—how you are feeling—that you are really able to help anybody else,” says Gewirtz. As we search for wise words to help our children make sense of violence and inhumanity, we, too, need to acknowledge our heartbreak. Find ways to connect with your community of friends and loved ones and receive their compassionate support. 

2. Seek to understand more deeply and listen- “Taking time to go beyond the headlines and learn more can build our knowledge and understanding of a topic so that we can feel comfortable talking with children in a way that is developmentally appropriate, as well as clearing up misconceptions,” says Tominey. 

Once you know more about the context of the conflict and feel more prepared to have a conversation, you can invite your child to tell you what they’ve been hearing or wondering about it. Listen attentively to their thoughts and questions. Be curious and make space for them to keep sharing their perspective with you. 

3. Be humble and honest- “Even if you don’t have an answer to a question, talk together about strategies to look up information from sources you trust, and about what makes a source reliable,” says Tominey. 

Look for news sources that go beyond your bubble and that represent holistic perspectives. Teach your children how to be critical consumers of news and to seek out different viewpoints that represent an assortment of voices. Show them how to be aware of misinformation, which has been rampant on social media. 

Source: Greater Good Science Center
4. Prioritize humanity- While war is one of the most traumatic parts of the news right now, our conversations with our children about Gaza, Palestine, and Israel do not only have to be about this moment. We can talk to our children about individual people from these places and their life stories. 

“Your children will have friends, classmates, and community members now and in the future with diverse identities and from diverse backgrounds,” says Tominey. “Through these conversations, we can help teach children that the identities and cultural traditions each person carries are just as important to them as yours are to you.” 

Help children understand that all people have inherent worth so that they come to see themselves and others as global citizens–all of whom strive to live in dignity. 

5. Help your children to take compassionate action- “The really important thing for parents to understand is that, just like us, children need to feel that there is something they can do,” says Gewirtz. “All of us feel more awful if we feel totally helpless—and our children are no exception.” 

For example, some children may want to find ways to donate to humanitarian organizations that are helping to provide aid. Older children may want to participate in marches to express themselves non-violently. 

6. Be a haven for children to navigate their emotions- “Let them know that all feelings are OK,” says Tominey. “Help your child express their feelings in healthy ways, such as by talking about them; sharing feelings through stories, artwork, and play; taking a walk; or in other ways.” 

While violence and intergenerational trauma are realities of our world, nurturing a loving space for our children’s emotions can help them learn that compassion is, too. “Trauma tries to convince us that compassion, community, and humanity aren’t possible,” writes psychiatrist Paul Conti in his book, Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic. As parents, we can show our children not only how to imagine these possibilities but to also act to make them achievable. 

For additional resources, see “Nine Tips for Talking With Kids About Trauma.” 

You can learn more by watching the video below from PBS News Hour and reviewing these LIAS Blogs (titles linked below) on talking with kids about troubling news. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Today We Are Thankful

We know that the holidays are a time to remind us to be thankful for what we have. From all of us at Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation, we wish you a peaceful and restful holiday! We are most grateful to all of you who work hard to support our youth in out of school time. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Hiring Part-Time, Temporary Staff to Work with Youth Isn’t Okay Anymore

Source: Rebecca Fabiano 

By Guest Blogger Rebecca Fabiano, Founder & President of FAB Youth Philly. (Note: This blog was originally published in Youth Today.)

We did something revolutionary with our two newest job postings in our youth program: offered them as full-time, year-round positions. Typically, these positions are part-time, hourly, temporary positions — and that is simply not working for us, or for our field, any longer.

Like many out-of-school time and afterschool programs, we’ve had to hire program staff at least two, even three times per year. While the function of these positions might be similar or even the same, because the time of day for the programs differs so greatly, we often have to hire different staff.

This creates a cycle of recruiting, interviewing, on-boarding, training, and off-boarding that is counterintuitive and counterproductive to the things we stand for in our field: positive relationships between youth and adults and equitable, career paths that have a living wage. It costs organizations of all sizes, but especially small organizations like ours, significant amounts of time and money, including for job postings, clearances, swag, and staff salaries. It takes up valuable time that could be put towards programming, staff training, community engagement and more, because we are doing it every three, six and nine months to be able to staff our afterschool and summer programs.

This approach to hiring is rooted in the nonprofit industrial complex and concepts like scarcity thinking. It is a waste of time, money and talent and keeps the very people we say add value to our organizations poor and less able to establish a meaningful career in our field. But most of all, for us, at Fab Youth Philly, this hamster wheel of hiring keeps us from building and maintaining trusting, caring and consistent relationships with the teens and their families we work with. If there is a new person from an unknown phone number calling or texting or sending an email every six months, how is a teen supposed to feel connected to us? How do caregivers know who to contact if they have a question or concern?

Source: Temescal Associates

“But what will these new hires do all day?” you ask. They will do and get paid for the things we ask them to do for free or outside of their work hours or for the “passion for the work”.

They will be able to attend community meetings and conduct outreach and build relationships. They will have time for planning and curriculum development. They will have time to collaborate with their colleagues — and we are hoping, as we continue to build relationships with schools and other youth-serving, nonprofit organizations and businesses. They can provide additional support in schools or public libraries or offer clubs during the day at school or at childcare centers. We see these full-time positions serving as a bridge between the school day and out-of-school time.

If you or someone you know are interested in this approach, check out the job description and others currently available on our FAB Youth Philly website. And if you’re a youth-serving organization who wants to follow the same path, here are three ways to get started:

1. Talk with your board of directors. Consider whether this move aligns with your organizational values and goals; if not, work with your board on what might need to shift. 

2. Review your budget and see where there is room to create full-time positions. We had some under-spending and talked with one of our funders about allocating this funding for the purpose of hiring full-time staff. You may have to plan a year or more out before you can offer a full-time position.

3. Talk with current or potential funders about your hiring goals and see if they are interested in testing this concept with you.

Rebecca Fabiano is the president and founder of Fab Youth Philly. For nearly 25 years, she has worked in various capacities across nonprofit and youth-serving organizations, served on boards and helped to build solid youth programs that engage, encourage, and create spaces for positive development. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Strategies to Improve School Attendance for Schools and Policy Makers

Source: California YMCA Youth & Government

By Sam Piha 
(Note: Our series of blog posts on chronic school absenteeism
are excerpts from a larger briefing paper entitled, Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool.)

For decades, research has confirmed that participation in quality afterschool programs improves school attendance. This is dramatically increased when afterschool programs, schools and the larger community work together collaboratively. (In Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool, see Appendix 4 for program evaluation examples of how afterschool programs impact school attendance.)

“Research shows that good afterschool programs can not only improve academic performance but also influence school-day attendance, even when most don’t appear to make it an intentional goal. They accomplish this by: 

  • Providing socialization and peer attention in a supervised venue. Re-establishing the link between effort and results—first in a non-school activity. 
  • Engaging students in challenging activities that help them develop persistence, a trait critical to later success in school and life.
  • Providing consistent contact with caring, stable adults.
  • Increasing the sense of belonging at school.” [i]

There are many strategies to address the various causes of chronic absenteeism. There are different strategies for different settings and stakeholders.

“Now educators face a big challenge: Helping students rebuild attendance habits while addressing the barriers that have kept them out of school. Solutions are as varied as the communities schools serve, researchers say. And any attendance strategy must be holistic, touching on everything from family relationships and transportation to anxiety and school climate.” [ii]


School Level Strategies
We know that the school climate and the individual classroom practices can have a large effect on youth absenteeism. Schools can reduce these negative factors through a program improvement process. However, afterschool programs often have little control over school day practices. Afterschool programs can still partner with schools in many ways, including serving on Care Teams or IEP committees.  

“Educators must recognize that external factors are not the only deterrents to attendance. Educators’ role is to address what sits squarely in their control: the conditions for learning. A supportive, culturally responsive school environment is one that fosters strong relationships and draws students into school. Strong conditions for learning can buffer against external factors that affect chronic absence, while weak conditions can heighten chronic absence. All four conditions are critical to improving student outcomes, especially for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.” [iii] 

To reduce chronic absenteeism schools must promote positive “Conditions for Learning”. They can accomplish this through school improvement efforts.

Source: American Institutes for Research

“Educators can also work to remove obstacles to attendance, such as helping a student who has moved obtain a bus pass, adjusting a course schedule for a student who works an early morning shift, or activating social services to provide temporary relief for homelessness. It is wise to intervene strategically (i.e., for groups of students) and early (i.e., at the first sign of disengagement or a few absences).” [iv]

For a collection of articles on absenteeism published in Ed Week, click here.

Policy And Advocacy

While schools and afterschool programs can reduce absenteeism, they need policies that support and do not hinder this work. It is important that you know who the policy making bodies are at the local, state and national levels and how you can learn from them. It is also important to know what actions to take to advocate for favorable policies. 

According to Attendance Works,

“Policy Makers Can:  

  • Adopt a standard definition of chronic absence (missing 10% or more of school), whether the school is in person, virtual or a blend, support daily attendance taking.
  • Ensure the state has a longitudinal student database—ideally beginning in preschool—that tracks attendance for each student using a unique identifier.
  • Make chronic absence a policy priority and direct districts and schools to identify contributing factors to student absenteeism.
  • Promote the adoption of learning opportunity metrics (contact, connectivity, attendance, participation and relationships) in addition to chronic absence.
  • Require that school improvement plans include prevention-oriented strategies to reduce chronic absence and improve attendance.
  • Sponsor legislation that sets a common definition for chronic absence, promotes monitoring and public reporting of data, and requires schools and districts to address high levels of chronic absence.
  • Support data sharing between education, health and social service agencies and other community-based youth and family organizations to target intervention efforts.
  • Ensure adequate and equitable resources so that all students have a substantially similar opportunity to meet performance standards regardless of geographic location, and that state and local funding are sufficient to reasonably expect that all students can meet academic performance standards.
  • Coordinate and secure resources to eliminate the digital divide.
  • Use chronic absence data to identify districts, schools, student populations and communities that need additional resources to remove barriers to attendance and ensure positive conditions of learning.
  • Build public awareness and consensus about addressing chronic absence.” [v]
[Webinar Recording Available]

To view this presentation, click here.

End Notes:

Monday, October 30, 2023

Afterschool Program Strategies to Improve School Attendance

Source: Edutopia

By Sam Piha
(Note: Our series of blog posts on chronic school absenteeism
are excerpts from a larger briefing paper entitled, Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool.)

“Leveraging the power of afterschool programs to reduce chronic absence is especially important now given the economic challenges facing communities and schools and the growing number of students at risk of academic failure and dropping out. By having an impact on attendance, afterschool programs can clearly demonstrate how they benefit students and schools and better justify their own funding.” [i] 

There are many strategies that afterschool programs can consider implementing to reduce school absenteeism. Some of these are listed below. 

Meet with staff and provide training to build awareness of the importance of school attendance, share school and program data.

Source: Temescal Associates

- Conduct a program self-assessment to determine the strengths and weaknesses of addressing absenteeism. (In Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool, see Appendix 2 for a program assessment tool. Tally the results and discuss. Make an improvement plan, implement, and assess progress.) 

- Send A Clear, Consistent Message-About School Attendance

“They [program leaders] need to begin with a strong and clear message that attendance is important and why. This message needs to be consistent with messages from the school, and also communicated to both youth and parents. Likewise, in order to get staff buy-in, they need to understand the importance as well.” [ii]

- Improve Program Quality:“Afterschool programs impact attendance through the hands-on, creative learning approaches that tend to be more prevalent in after school programs than in more traditional classroom settings. The relationships between youth in afterschool programs with the staff tend to be far different than those with their teachers.” [iii]

- Monitor Attendance Data and Practice:“In order to know the extent of the issue and where to focus your efforts, it’s important to track attendance and progress. Be sure that staff take and maintain records on attendance daily. This should also be coordinated by talking with the school attendance office regularly.” [iv]  

- Offer Academic Support:“Some of the ways that after school programs impact attendance include tutoring and homework assistance – forms of academic support…. This support network both assists the youth with the content area, but also increases their self confidence in the work they are completing.” [v] 

- Recruit School-Day Teachers as Afterschool Workers: Having teachers be part of the afterschool program strengthens the connection with the school and individual teachers. 

- Incentives, Contracts and Recognition: After identifying youth participants who are often absent, develop ways to incentivize attendance. Consider working with the youth to develop a contract related to attendance. Afterschool programs, often times, in and of themselves, are a reward to youth who participate and is something they look forward to at the end of their school day.

- Provide Personalized Early Outreach: Notice absenteeism and intervene early on. Don’t wait for it to become “chronic”. Identify these youth and see if you can identify and mitigate some contributing causes. 

“By providing a personalized and early outreach approach you can increase your chances of success. Someone reaching out to a family regarding attendance issues should already have a relationship with them. There needs to be some rapport that enables open conversation and trust. Knowing the issues that are impacting attendance is important to begin to consider ways to help. Are there health issues, transportation issues, shelter issues?” [vi]

- Involve Parents and Guardians: Often it is not enough to engage youth alone. We need to involve parents and guardians to address chronic absenteeism. “Some programs, when they stop and consider it, haven’t really invited parents to the program…Reach out and invite them to the program. Hold a parent meeting, host a dinner or reception where they meet staff and youth show off their work or an activity. Consider the time of an event and how you can support the parents, especially those with other young children, to maximize attendance. Some programs offer day care for younger siblings or offer dinner during the event, so they don’t have to rush out and worry about that afterwards.

Parents will tend to be more invested when they know and better understand the positive impacts and negative consequences of attendance at school. This includes both excused and unexcused absences, which collectively, when they increase, have an impact on the youth. A positive program culture that is inclusive of youth involvement, increases youth commitment and ownership in the program, and enables youth to feel like partners with the staff and adults.” [vii]

- Enlist Additional Partners: Schools and afterschool programs cannot solve absenteeism alone. They do not have control over many external factors that affect student attendance. “Some remedies to chronic absence may require a web of human resources, including pediatricians, mental health providers, schools, public health partners and others.” [viii]


“Improving student attendance is the responsibility of an entire community, not just schools. Community partners (parents, neighborhood residents, civic organizations, businesses, city and county agencies, faith leaders, etc.) are instrumental to every level of a tiered approach. Community partners can help send the message that missing just two days a month can hinder a child’s success in school. Additionally, partners can provide recognition for good and improved attendance as well as address common barriers to getting to school such as poor health, unreliable transportation, or the lack of a safe path to school. If larger numbers of students are chronically absent, then it is a sign that you may need to cultivate additional adults who can help mentor and support students.” [ix]

(Note: Afterschool leaders cautioned program leaders to make promises that they do not have the resources for and that interventions such as home visits, may require additional funding.)

Monday, October 23, 2023

Chronic Absenteeism: Myths and Causes


By Sam Piha
(Note: Our series of blog posts on chronic school absenteeism
are excerpts from a larger briefing paper entitled, Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool.)

“Once you better understand the ‘why’ then you can consider community resources and other supports that can assist the family and begin to improve school attendance. Developing a supportive relationship and maintaining regular contact will show the family this is about long-term change and that they could on rely on you as a support system. They need to see you working with them as a positive partnership. Your relationship and work with them needs to be seen as an ally.” [i]
Myths Of Chronic Absence—And How to Counteract Them
According to an article published by American Institutes for Research (AIR), “Standing in the way of truly addressing chronic absence are three harmful myths. These myths can be counteracted by using evidence-based approaches grounded in the seminal body of knowledge known as the conditions for learning. A safe, supportive and engaging environment for learning buffers against widespread chronic absence, and educators must examine these conditions to appropriately address this issue.
  • Myth 1: Invoking legal consequences is an effective response to poor attendance. Counter Action: Refrain from relying on punitive policies that create additional obstacles to attendance.
  • Myth 2: Attendance is simply a reflection of how much students and families value education. Counter Action: Get to know your students and their families better.
  • Myth 3: Improving student attendance is beyond educators’ sphere of influence. Counter Action: Provide support when possible and counterbalance external factors by creating a supportive school environment.” [ii] 
“Aside from physical illness and bad weather, anxiety is the top reason high school students missed school in the past year, according to the results of a student survey from the EdWeek Research Center. Sixteen percent of students who were absent for at least a day in the past year and missed school for reasons other than physical illness said they didn’t attend because of anxiety, and 12 percent said they felt too sad or depressed to attend.” [iii] 
Causes Of Chronic Absenteeism 
There are many causes for absenteeism, and they involve issues concerning the individual child, the school and/or family. “These included barriers like illness, caring for another family member, mental or emotional health issues, involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, difficulties with housing or food, or no safe path or transportation to school; aversions like bullying, bad grades, or ineffective or exclusionary discipline practices; and disengagement factors like lack of engaging or culturally relevant instruction or poor school climate. Moreover, low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent.” [iv] (In Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool, see Appendix 1 for an assessment tool to help identify the causes for a young person’s absence.)

When looking at causes for absenteeism, it is important to look at the individual child. Causes include:
  • School avoidance- The child may not want to leave home due to various reasons because of a change in their life, such as a new school or just moved or issues cited below.
  • Academic struggles
  • Disabilities
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety 
  • Safety concerns at school (This could be a result of bullying at school.)
  • Social dynamics involving other youth
  • Health issues (This could involve emotional health, such as depression or anxiety. Note: Childhood asthma is a leading cause of chronic disease-related school absenteeism in the U.S., associated with over 10 million missed school days annually.)

Issues can be rooted in the family. Causes might include: 
  • School safety concern
  • History of negative school experiences
  • New child (by birth, adoption or placement)
  • Illness or death in the family
  • Divorce or separation
  • Problems with transportation
  • Mental or emotional health issues in the household
  • Children caring for others (siblings or adults)
  • Housing insecurity
  • Food insecurity
  • Lack of school clothing
  • Beliefs that schools can’t be trusted 
  • A preference for home schooling
  • Cultural or language barriers

Issues can also be rooted in the school. Causes might include: 
  • Unwelcoming school climate
  • Concerns about physical and emotional safety
  • Lack of connectedness and belonging
  • Academic challenges
  • Lack of social-emotional support

End Notes:

[i] Supporting Attendance Through After School Programming Mini-Guide
[ii] Chronic Absence: Busting Myths and Helping Educators Develop More Effective Responses
[iii] Students Are Missing School Because They’re Too Anxious to Show Up
[iv] Afterschool Focus: The Role of Attendance in Afterschool

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Monday, October 16, 2023

About Chronic School Absenteeism

By Sam Piha 
(Note: Our series of blog posts on chronic school absenteeism
are excerpts from a larger briefing paper entitled, Chronic School Absenteeism and the Role of Afterschool.)

We know that school attendance is key to student success. “Students who attend school regularly are more likely to master academic content, get good grades, feel connected to their community, develop healthy habits, and ultimately graduate from high school.” [i]

Before the pandemic, about 8 million U.S. students were considered chronically absent, according to the research group Attendance Works. By spring 2022, that number had almost doubled to around 14.7 million. (You can read or listen to this NPR piece on absenteeism post-COVID, 3 Years Since the Pandemic Wrecked Attendance Kids Still Aren’t Showing Up to School.)

Afterschool programs are particularly well positioned to reduce chronic absenteeism by focusing efforts on ensuring the quality of their programs and partnering with the school, families, and the community. 

“Leveraging the power of afterschool programs to reduce chronic absence is especially important now given the economic challenges facing communities and schools and the growing number of students at risk of academic failure and dropping out. By having an impact on attendance, afterschool programs can clearly demonstrate how they benefit students and schools and better justify their own funding.” [ii]

Terms And Definitions

The definitions provided here are to assist in understanding some frequently used terms. 

Chronic absenteeism- “Chronic absence is a measure of the total instructional time missed by a student and is defined as individual students missing at least 10 percent of school for any reason. If students miss one day every other week, that’s 18 absences annually, or 10 percent of the year.” [iii]


School refusal- “This is a term used to describe the signs of anxiety a school-aged child has and his or her refusal to go to school. It is also called school avoidance or school phobia. It can be seen in different types of situations, including: Young children going to school for the first time.” [iv]

Exclusionary discipline practices- “Exclusionary discipline, which involves removing students from the classroom through punishments such as suspensions and expulsions, deprives students of the opportunity to learn.” [v]

Punitive policies- “Imposed punitive consequences have the effect of shaming and stigmatizing students who have caused harm. Restorative processes offer an opportunity for students who have caused harm to understand the source of their behavior, take responsibility for their choices, and to learn and grow from the experience.” [vi]

Bullying- “The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or online.” [vii]

More About Chronic Absenteeism

The Sweetwater Union High School District writes, 

“Chronic Absenteeism:

  • Is a primary cause of lower academic achievement, even when the absences are “excused” or understandable.
  • Is a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school. This affects an estimated five to seven and a half million students each year.
  • Can even affect students in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, who are then much less likely to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
  • Is caused by a variety of issues, including chronic health conditions, housing instability, involvement with the juvenile justice system, and unsafe conditions in school, among many others.
  • Is particularly prevalent among students who are low-income, students of color, students with disabilities, students who are highly mobile, and/or juvenile justice-involved youth—in other words, those who already tend to face significant challenges and for whom school is particularly beneficial.
  • Is particularly prevalent among those students who are homeless or reside in public housing.
  • May lead to substance abuse. When students are skipping school, many of them become engaged in risky behavior such as substance abuse and delinquency.
  • Affects other students, too. Not only are frequent absences harmful to the absentee, but they also have a negative effect on the achievement of other students in the classroom.
  • Can negatively influence future adult health outcomes. Indeed, the mortality rate of high school dropouts is over two times greater than that for adults with some college education.
  • Can increase likelihood of involvement with the criminal justice system.
  • Is not measured by most states or school districts in this country, which leaves many educators and communities without information they need to identify students who could use additional support to maintain regular attendance.” [viii]

End Notes:

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Monday, October 9, 2023

High School Afterschool Programs: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Source: FAB Youth Philly

By Guest Blogger: Rebecca Fabiano, MSED, Executive Director of FAB Youth Philly 
(previously published on FAB Youth Philly)
For seven years I ran a high school out-of-school time (OST) program that I started from scratch. It was by far one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I did a LOT of on the job learning from, and with my students. Here’s what I came to know that helped me to design activities and programs for participants.  

High school students come to our programs for various reasons and they utilize our program in accordance to their developmental needs. This means that we need to develop activities, supports, etc. that intentionally meet those needs, and making sure that staff is adequately trained and supported to meet those needs. 

Here are a few tips that I’m excited to share with you, which you can use to design your high school OST programs: 

Ways OST programs can support 9th graders making the transition to high school. This includes: 
  • Developing new friendships (have a buddy or big bro/sister program with older/experienced youth in the OST; workshops on peer pressure, bullying etc.) 
  • Developing study & time management skills (offer workshops, games like Minute to Win It, Jeopardy, etc.) 
  • Understanding how to ‘be’ a high school student (what classes to take, how to read transcripts through workshops, etc.) 
  • Lots of exposure activities (that also involve making new friends- trips, movies, guest speakers, etc.) 
Source: Beyond Expectations- The Power of High School Afterschool

Ways OST programs can support 10th graders by helping them to build their friendships, explore their identity and other life skills and start to expand their networks towards post-high school goals-college/career. This includes: 
  • Health & wellness & sexuality activities (Sept-Dec) 
  • Identity exploration through guest speakers (Sept-Dec) 
  • Prep for 1st summer job (Jan-June) (bring a nurse on campus to expedite work papers, etc.) 
  • Help them develop skills and experiences that will prep them for work including civic engagement/ project based learning activities. 
  • Offer PSAT classes 

Ways OST programs can support 11th graders by focusing on college and career exploration via work-readiness clubs, leadership opportunities (this could be the big bro/sister program) and internships; continue with civic engagement activities: 
  • Career panels (fall) 
  • Career days (fall) 
  • Develop a workshop on a fave topic for younger youth (spring) 
  • Developing career related documents (cover letter, resume, etc) (spring) 
  • Start college tours/hold college spirit days, etc. (spring) 
  • College essay writing workshops/games/contests, etc. (spring) 
  • Offer SAT classes (fall & spring) 

Ways OST programs can support 12th graders by zooming in on the college prep and post high school process: 
  • College tours (fall) 
  • College panelists (fall) 
  • Essay writing workshops/games/contests, etc. (fall) 
  • “Now that you’ve been accepted to college” workshops also: getting along with roommates, developing resistance skills (avoiding peer pressure for drinking, sex, etc.), how to avoid using all your meal plan points in one week, etc. (spring) 

Let us know: How do YOU design programs to intentionally meet the developmental needs of young people? Email your ideas to:

[For more information on high school afterschool, check out Temescal Associates High School Afterschool Resources.]


For nearly 25 years, Rebecca Fabiano has worked in various capacities across nonprofit and youth-serving organizations, served on boards and helped to build solid youth programs that engage, encourage, and create spaces for positive development. As a program leader, she has successfully raised funds and managed program budgets; hired and supervised staff; developed and sustained strong community partnerships and designed award-winning programming.
Fab Youth Philly (FYP) has a unique, holistic model for youth development. Their three-pronged approach to youth development is aimed at creating relevant, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities at the individual, professional, and community level. First, they provide innovative, award-winning summer and afterschool programs for teens with a focus on workforce development programming. Second, they connect with youth development professionals working with or on behalf of youth through their Center for Youth Development Professionals (CYDP), which offers competency-based professional development and networking opportunities. Third, they consult with other youth-serving organizations to provide a range of consulting services, ranging from curriculum development to retreats and small


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Monday, October 2, 2023

LGBTQ+ Youth Rights

Source: NorCal ACLU 

By Sam Piha

As discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth is on the rise, it’s important to know that there are federal and in some cases, state laws, that protect LGBTQ+ youth from harassment and restrictions. State protections vary from state to state. 

Below is a brief review of LGBTQ+ youth rights and advice to LGBTQ+ youth by the ACLU and GLSEN (last updated May 2018): “You have the right to be yourself! Here is some basic information about LGBTQ students’ legal rights in public schools.

  • Freedom of Expression: Some schools try to silence students who express their opinions about LGBTQ issues. If you go to a public school, you have a constitutional right to express your views and identity.
  • Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs): A GSA is a noncurricular student-led club -- just like Chess Club or Fellowship of Christian Athletes -- for students with a shared interest in LGBTQ issues. Federal law requires public high schools that allow any other noncurricular clubs to allow GSAs and treat them no differently from other clubs.
  • School Dances: Public schools can't stop you from bringing a same-sex date to prom or homecoming who otherwise is allowed to attend, nor can they tell you that you can't dress a certain way or run for prom king/queen because it doesn't fit traditional gender roles.
  • Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students: Transgender and gender nonconforming students often face discrimination over dress codes, access to restrooms and locker rooms, and their chosen names and pronouns. Contact the ACLU LGBT Project if you want help making sure your school treats you with respect and keeps you safe.
  • Harassment: If you're being harassed or threatened, go to the principal or another official right away. Keep detailed notes with dates of all incidents. Put the school on notice that it has to protect you.
  • Privacy: Schools should not out you to anyone without your permission, even if you're out to some people at school.”


The NORCAL ACLU adds: 

“If you suspect that your school is mistreating you because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, here are some basic rules to help you out:

  • Be respectful and follow the rules!
  • Don't give your school any excuses for treating you badly by behaving badly yourself. This can make things harder to solve in the long run. Explain your grievances in a mature, respectable and respectful manner.
  • Document everything!
  • Keep a record of the ‘Six W’s” each time you are harassed:
    • WHO was involved,
    • WHAT happened,
    • WHERE it happened,
    • WHEN it happened,
    • WHO you reported it to, whether they did anything about it, and when,
    • And if there were any WITNESSES.

Keep copies of anything in writing that you file with the school and be sure to write down the date (or even better, ask them to stamp it as received, with the date). Also take notes about any additional conversations you have with school administrators and any actions they take (or fail to take) and be sure to write down the dates for those too.

File a complaint! Your school is required by law to have a clear and publicized process for filing complaints of harassment. If the process is not posted around campus like it should be, ask what this process is, and follow it—you may also remind your school of their obligation to post these materials. Your school must keep your identity confidential and protect you from retaliation.”

For more information or assistance, you can contact your local and/or the national ACLU.

In an effort to speak out against recent political attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, we have posted several LIAS blogs and authored a briefing paper entitled, Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth in Afterschool Programs and Opposing Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks. Feel free to share these resources with your network. 

Lights On Afterschool 

Join more than 8,000 communities and 1 million Americans in celebrating afterschool programs for this year's Lights On Afterschool! This nationwide event, organized by the Afterschool Alliance, calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources required to keep the lights on and the doors open.  Everything you need to plan a successful event, from case studies to sample materials, is available in the Lights On Afterschool Planning Kit.

To learn more about Lights On Afterschool, register an event, access event planning tools, or to find out what’s going on in your area, visit

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