Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Look Ahead to Afterschool in the Next Decade

As we head into a new decade, we thought it would be appropriate to hear from afterschool leaders regarding how they viewed the opportunities and the challenges to afterschool moving forward.

EMERGING TRENDS/ OPPORTUNITIES: There are more and more options for expanded learning programs to specialize in certain kinds of practices, whether STEM, arts, CTE, culturally sustaining practice, and so on. How they navigate among these choices is an open question for me, and possibly an opportunity for additional support and guidance.

CHALLENGES: Challenges include a strong economy that creates more competition for talent, minimum wage laws in many cities and states, plus AB 5 in California. The cost pressures on programs continue to increase, and philanthropies are lessening their support for expanded learning rather than increasing it. Also, the distinction between social and emotional learning and positive youth development practices can use more clarification, especially from a practice perspective.

EMERGING TRENDS/ OPPORTUNITIES: The vision described here is THE FUTURE. In 2020 and beyond, the Expanded Learning field will leverage the Science of Learning and Development to strengthen the case and strengthen our practice that we create the conditions necessary for youth to thrive. Expanded Learning programs are also serving communities that have a lot of needs. In 2020 and beyond Expanded Learning programs will partner better with health, mental health, and social service sectors to offer relevant interventions when kids and families are in need of support beyond what we can provide in our programs.

CHALLENGES: The rates that support Expanded Learning programs are still woefully insufficient and decision-makers such as legislators are becoming fatigued with the message that Expanded Learning programs need more investment to meet baseline operational costs, let alone live up to their true potential. 2020 will be another critical year to rally our staff, families, and communities to communicate clearly and with large numbers that Expanded Learning programs are worthy of investment.

EMERGING TRENDS/ OPPORTUNITIES: I see the emerging trends include the issues of mental health and well-being (both for our students and our staff), school safety (anti-bullying / positive school climate), equity & inclusion, and student voice.  Some of the focus areas that address these emerging issues and trends include:  SEL, Trauma-informed practices Restorative Justice, Mindfulness, and Growth Heartset.

CHALLENGES: Adequate funding and developing and retaining quality staff.


EMERGING TRENDS/ OPPORTUNITIES: I see and hope for a rising priority in the shape and value of programs for older youth, and youth action and voice in society.

CHALLENGES: We need to rise to the challenge to systemically support the adults in the field with meaningful career pathways and preparation to support their critical role in youth learning and development.

EMERGING TRENDS/ OPPORTUNITIES: The emerging trend in Expanded Learning that continues to grow, and I believe is on the verge of doing so exponentially, is "Workforce Readiness", or the "Career" part of the new "College and Career" focus.  There is now a proliferation of Industry Pathways and Academies in high schools, which to produce great outcomes really requires important foundational work at both the middle and elementary school level.  The opportunities to create, develop, and innovate effective programming models in Expanded Learning Programs to support this Workforce Readiness movement are currently boundless.  This is truly an incredible opportunity for Expanded Learning Programs to provide more than multiple modalities of learning that directly support the Instructional Day.

CHALLENGES: The biggest challenge I see facing the field is the ability to find and retain program level staff.  With the dramatic increases in minimum wage, it is almost impossible for programs to financially compete for quality program level staff.  There is work now beginning which hopes to make work experience/internships in Expanded Learning Programs as a part of a course of study for post-secondary students on a Teaching Pathway.  Teachers that have Youth Development experience have better student engagement skills that directly result in excellent classroom management.

I’m thinking about:
  • The Census and its impact on Youth Programs/OST; also thinking about voter registration (of staff and participants/families). 
  • Equity and professional development (PD)- who gets to go to conferences for example, where do we invest our PD dollars in our organizations and in the field? 
  • The role of extended learning programs in addressing poverty (e.g, living wages, skills for 21st century employment, entrepreneurship).

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