Thursday, June 30, 2022

Youth Work Basics


By Sam Piha

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with afterschool programs. The one silver lining was the abundance of online professional development resources that were created and made available online.

According to many program leaders, they are now working to refill staff positions. This will require training drawing on “youth work basics.” Below we offer one such “youth work basic”- the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) Learning Principles, as well as discussion questions and some assessment tools. 

I think that the Learning Principles in the Learning in Afterschool and Summer Project really get at the core of learning for students starting in early childhood going through the university.” – Dr. Deborah Vandell, former Dean of the School of Education, UC Irvine, and leading afterschool researcher

We invite you to view this short video which reviews the importance of the LIAS Learning Principles taken from interviews with afterschool and educational leaders and The LIAS Learning Principles Position Statement which details each of the 5 LIAS Learning Principles and serves as an excellent handout for program staff, parents and other stakeholders. 


About the LIAS Learning Principles
We know that most afterschool youth programs are dedicated to promoting the learning and healthy development of young people. Several years ago, we conducted a literature review specifically focused on young people’s learning. We distilled what we learned into 5 Learning Principles. They are designed to guide the development of quality afterschool programs. 

We believe that these principles are both universal and evergreen. Thus, we were pleased to read the article in the Signal Tribune entitled, LBUSD Will Expand After-School Programs Districtwide, Asks for Parent Input. The article quoted Cindy Young, LBUSD senior director of Early Childhood and Extended Learning, in which she cited the LIAS Learning Principles as the standard undergirding their afterschool programs. 

OTHER LIAS RESOURCES: The LIAS Learning Principles are foundational to anyone designing and implementing youth programs. These additional resources below can be shared with all program staff and stakeholders.

VIDEOS: 
Dr. Pedro Noguera
OST Leaders Discussing the LIAS Principles (compilation)
Out of School time leaders discuss the importance and impact of the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Principles in and out of the classroom. This video (18 min) features interviews with leaders Tom Torlakson, former Superintendent of Public Instruction for the California Department of Education; Dr. Deborah Vandell, Professor of Education and Psychology and former Dean of the School of Education at UC Irvine; Andi Fletcher, Afterschool and Educational Consultant for the Center for Collaborative Solutions; Carol Tang, Director of The Coalition for Science After School; Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of Partnership for Children and Youth; Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education at USC; Paul Heckman, Associate Dean and Professor at UC Davis; Steve Amick, Director of School District Partnerships at THINK Together; and many more! 

Dr. Deborah Vandell
Individual Interviews with OST Leaders Discuss the LIAS Principles
On our LIAS Youtube channel are 21 individual video interviews (3-17 min) with OST leaders (see above) sharing their thoughts on the LIAS Learning Principles.



WRITTEN DOCS/PAPERS: Afterschool Programs that Reflect the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Learning Principles
This paper (49 pages) describes the practices of actual afterschool programs that exemplify the learning principles promoted by the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) Learning Principles. This paper offers some background and a full description of the Learning in Afterschool & Summer project and its five learning principles that should define quality afterschool programming. 

A Crosswalk Between the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Learning Principles and Afterschool Quality Measurement Tools
This paper (8 pages) identifies the overlap between the LIAS Learning Principles with items in six program quality measurement tools that serve as good examples of measurement tools for afterschool programs.

Summer Programs That Reflect the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Learning Principles
This paper (16 pages) highlights the wide variety of ways in which California summer learning programs are using the LIAS principles to engage and inspire learning in young people.

LIAS BLOGS: These blogs focus on the issues regarding the LIAS Learning Principles.

Millions of professionals and volunteers work with young people every day in the many settings where youth play, learn, and grow outside of the school day. Yet, we have little collective information about this essential workforce. You can help change this!”- California Afterschool Network

Take the survey today, click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Preparing Youth for the Workforce in Afterschool and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline (Part 2)

Source: USC

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha

We know that when asked, older youth say they are most interested in acquiring the skills needed to get a job. Also, we know that as youth program leaders, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood, which includes creating opportunities to explore careers and gather workforce skills. Afterschool, sometimes referred to as Expanded Learning (ExL), is well positioned to help older youth to acquire these skills. 

Bill Fennessy is a Program Specialist for Workforce Initiatives at the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). We recently invited Bill to lead a How Kids Learn Speaker’s Forum webinar entitled, Preparing Youth for the Workforce in Afterschool and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline.  To learn more and register, click here.



In preparation of this webinar, we asked Bill a few questions on the importance of youth workforce development in afterschool programs. You can read Part 1 of the interview here and we continue with Part 2 of his responses below.

Q: Do you think that the expanded learning setting is a good place for youth workforce preparation?  
A:
Absolutely! The ExL setting is where young people can feel comfortable to learn and practice the skills they want to experience, in this case “Employability Skills Workshops”.   Work is something many of them are curious about or are already very interested in, so it is a very relevant activity for them. For those high school students that will serve at the elementary school ExL programs, the relationships they have with their own ExL program staff gives them the great opportunity to watch someone they trust model what would be expected when they work with elementary students. They also are implicitly introduced to the thought of an actual ExL job after high school, and they will likely need a job if they plan to attend college.

Source: A World Fit for Kids

Q: What does youth workforce preparation have to do with the ExL worker shortage?
A: We see that we can be part of a “grow your own” workforce approach, because one of the largest pools of potential Exl Staff is the current class of high school seniors, which is a source that is replenished annually. (High school students 16 years and older might also be considered). Therefore, focusing on the implementation of strategies that will work to make HS students aware of, or have experience in this potential field of ExL employment will begin the creation of a highly desirable pipeline.  Additionally, ExL programs and participants, particularly high school students, can be partnered with to also create pathways to multiple careers in education and other human services. This because the competencies that make an ExL staff person or site coordinator successful in their position are similar to the competencies that might be needed to implement restorative practices, community schools, teaching, counseling, social work, and a whole host of other professions. Therefore, we know this workforce can be part of a variety of career paths, including and especially in the field of expanded learning itself.


I do like participating as a staff assistant in the middle school program. I just love it when you have someone that looks up to you, running to you asking what class you’re helping that day. It feels good helping others. I also enjoy this role because they’re not the only ones learning from me; engaging with them helps me learn more about other things.” - HS youth, Richmond Village Beacon Center, SF, Ca 


Q: What form does workforce preparation usually take in ExL programs for older youth?  
A:
It usually first shows up as an “Employment Skills Workshops” program (see graphic below). This is typically offered to all ExL participants. Other students may be recruited for the elementary school ExL “Work Experience Program”. Students may later use the skills learned to get a job on their own, which is clearly of great benefit to them.  




Bill Fennessy
is a Program Specialist for Workforce Initiatives at the California AfterSchool Network (CAN) since February 2022. After a successful professional motorcycle road-racing career, Bill began his new career in education in 1998 with the Pasadena Unified School District as a Campus Aide.   

Early in his career Bill worked at Blair IB School serving as a School Security Officer, a 3 sport Varsity Coach, Athletic Director, and later as the Site Coordinator for Blair’s 7th-9th grade ASES Program. He later developed one of California’s first ASSETs pilot programs. The success of the program was recognized early on, and it also provided the opportunities for him to become a pioneer, innovator, exemplary practitioner, and thought leader in High School Expanded Learning nationwide. Bill was then hired by Think Together in 2009, as its first Director of High School Programs. Once there, he successfully opened 14 ASSETs Programs across 4 Counties and 7 Districts, which all attained greater than 100% ADA in their first year of operation.  

Before leaving Think Together, Bill also led a highly successful CBO/EXLP/CTE collaborative effort to significantly increase student internships with Santa Ana USD. Bill recently served as the Director of High School Programs for A World Fit For Kids!, based in Los Angeles, and as a Consultant for the Los Angeles and Tulare Counties Offices of Education. 

Summer Fundraiser:
The How Kids Learn Foundation is hosting a summer fundraiser to support our work in 2023. Learn more here!


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Preparing Youth for the Workforce in Afterschool and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline (Part 1)

Source: Alexandriava.gov

By Sam Piha

We know that when asked, older youth say they are most interested in acquiring the skills needed to get a job. Also, we know that as youth program leaders, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood, which includes creating opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills. Afterschool, sometimes referred to as Expanded Learning (ExL), is well positioned to help older youth to acquire these skills. 

Bill Fennessy
Bill Fennessy is a Program Specialist for Workforce Initiatives at the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). I first met Bill years ago when he innovated a new high school afterschool program in Pasadena, CA. Bill was part of the first round of ASSETs (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) program funding. He subsequently joined Think Together as their first Director of High School Programs and continued this role later at A World Fit for Kids. We recently invited Bill to lead a How Kids Learn Speaker’s Forum webinar entitled, Preparing Youth for the Workforce in Afterschool and Building Your Own Youth Worker Pipeline. To learn more and register, click here.



In preparation of this webinar, we asked Bill a few questions on the importance of youth workforce development in afterschool programs, and his responses are below.

Q: What do you mean by workforce preparation?   
A: Preparing older youth for the workforce is giving students both the skill building instruction, practice and experience to prepared them for the employment process, and then provide additional specific preparation previous to an actual workplace environment to provide a truly beneficial experience and real context for working. Starting to expose and prepare older youth to serve in afterschool or expanded learning (ExL) elementary programs can be a significant help to developing and finding potential quality staff, thereby creating your own ExL program staffing pipeline.

Q: What do we hear from the business community in regard to preparing youth for the workforce?
A: Businesses and corporations are looking for a diverse workforce of young employees that can assimilate into the workplace smoothly, quickly, and carry themselves in a professional manner. Being able to thrive in a team environment and/or on team projects is also a highly sought ability. They are also looking more now at what an employee can actually do, rather than what level of education they have attained. Then once employed, advancing in the workplace also has far more to do with an employee’s “people-skills” than the volume of work completed. In addition, Community Colleges are considering giving credits for employment completed in general. Resumes are very important in demonstrating what skills potential employees possess, and ExL employment provides an opportunity to acquire a vast number of skills and competencies.


Q: Why is preparing youth for work and career success important for young people from low-income neighborhoods? Is there an issue of equity that we should seek to address?  
A: Preparing young people from low-income neighborhoods is absolutely critical for their success in both education and the workforce. Results from a Gallup Poll showed that 65% of underserved and youth of color will take their educational and career advice from someone in the workplace, over their parent, teacher, or counselor combined. Thus, it is incredibly clear that preparing and placing our underserved and youth of color in the workforce is a MUST.  

Our ExL youth participants are the diversified workforce we are looking for in our ExL programs. Having students serving in elementary ExL programs, can also be a start towards an education pathway, which should then help provide the diversified Exl workforce and potentially continuing on to the diversified teaching workforce desired.  

I would tell the other afterschool programs that it is an excellent idea to bring student youth workers to their program because it is giving them a chance to succeed in life, and they won't be just in the streets doing nothing. Instead, they will be in the programs learning about new experiences and how to be better in the future.” – HS youth, Richmond Village Beacon Center, SF, Ca 
 
Q:  Is this an appropriate concept for elementary, middle and/or high school?  
A: This is most appropriate for high school students, as they are old enough to get a work-permit from their school district. Employing high school youth in elementary school ExL programs does have a positive effect on those programs. Also, older youth students serving in our elementary school ExL programs do not require a Work-Permit, so the opportunity is open for ALL high school students. (We do avoid high school students working with middle school students to avoid potential over-identification issues.) 


Bill Fennessy is a Program Specialist for Workforce Initiatives at the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Bill was part of the first round of ASSETs (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) programs funding. He subsequently joined Think Together as their first Director of High School Programs and continued this role later at A World Fit for Kids, before joining CAN.

Summer Fundraiser:
The How Kids Learn Foundation is hosting a summer fundraiser to support our work in 2023. Learn more here!


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

SURVEY OF THE FIELD: The Future of Professional Development in Afterschool Programs


By Sam Piha

Afterschool programs were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This included program closures, a youth worker shortage and a drop in attendance. We wanted to learn more about the impacts on professional development and future needs looking forward. To this end, we conducted a survey of 43 afterschool program leaders inquiring about the future of professional development. Below we offer a report on what we learned. (This report is also available as a PDF here).

ROLES OF RESPONDENTS: 

  • Afterschool Program Director (Single Site): 31%
  • Multiple Afterschool Sites Coordinator (This could be a school district or a regional coordinator): 29%
  • Afterschool Consultant (This could be a school district or private consultant focused on program quality, student support, coach and staff development, etc): 19%
  • Afterschool Program Staff:  10%
  • Non-profit Program Provider Executive Director: 7%
  • Other: 5%

WHAT STATES DO RESPONDENTS WORK IN: 

  • California: 72%
  • Florida: 12%
  • Ohio: 7%
  • Texas: 3%
  • Missouri: 3%
  • Washington: 3%
  • New York: 3%

DO PROGRAM LEADERS PREFER FACE-TO-FACE, VIRTUAL OR A HYBRID MODEL FOR TRAININGS? 






DUE TO THE MANY POSITIONS THAT NEED TO BE FILLED BY THE FALL, IS THERE A STRONG NEED FOR AFTERSCHOOL "BASICS" TRAINING (INTRO TO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH, PROGRAM QUALITY, ETC.), AS THEY ONBOARD A NUMBER OF NEW STAFF? 

  • Yes: 100%

IS YOUR BUDGET FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT LARGER OR SMALLER THIS YEAR THAN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC? 





ARE YOU ABLE TO PAY YOUR STAFF FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TIME? 




HOW MANY NEW HIRES WILL YOU TRY TO RECRUIT FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR? 




ARE THERE FUTURE TRAINING TOPICS THAT PROGRAMS ARE PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN?

  • Managing Behavior: (9)
  • SEL: (9)
  • Trauma Informed Practices: (7)
  • Student Mental Health: (5)
  • How To Re-Engage Students: (5)
  • Classroom Management: (4)
  • Engaging Activity Planning: (3)
  • Child/Youth Development: (2)
  • De-Escalation: (2)
  • The Pandemic Shutdown and Effects on Mental Health
  • Self-Care
  • Mental Health for Staff
  • Youth Engagement in The Post Pandemic Era
  • Children Growing Up Without a Parent
For a complete list of training topics cited by respondents, click here.


We know that when asked, older youth say they are most interested in acquiring the skills needed to get a job. Also, we know that as youth program leaders, it is our job to help prepare young people for success in adulthood, which includes creating opportunities to explore careers and gather work-based skills. Afterschool, sometimes referred to as Expanded Learning (ExL), is well positioned to help older youth to acquire these skills.

In this Speaker’s Forum webinar, Bill Fennessy (CAN) and panelists will provide information on and examples of a series of workshops on employment skills for youth. They will also discuss how high school expanded learning programs can employ their older youth in elementary expanded learning programs, thereby creating a pipeline for program staff to address the worker shortage.

To learn more and register, click here.



Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Talking with Kids After Tragedy Strikes Again


By Sam Piha

This blog is intended to help afterschool programs promote young people’s learning and healthy development. However, it seems that much of this space is dominated by issues of trauma and violence, from Parkland to Charlottesville to the grief of the COVID pandemic to now the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tx. 

And now, on top of all those already existing pandemic-related chronic stressors, many children and families may be overwhelmed with the added fear of sending their children to school,” - Katherine Williams, child and adolescent psychologist and professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego

I think Steve Kerr, coach of the NBA Golden State Warriors said it best in his pregame press conference for game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. “I'm not going to talk about basketball. Nothing's happened with our team in the last six hours. We're going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don't matter. When are we going to do something? I'm tired. I'm so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I'm so tired. Excuse me. I'm sorry. I'm tired of the moments of silence. Enough!” See the video of his press conference


After the tragic shooting in Texas, several articles have offered tips on how to discuss these events with kids, and offer a number of resources for those who want to learn more. Below I summarize tips from two articles, Texas School Shooting: How to Help Kids Get Through Unspeakable Horror and Nine Tips for Talking with Kids About Trauma.

  • Initiate the conversation and talk to kids about their concerns
  • Listen
  • Find out what they know
  • Give kids a sense of control and reassuring facts about their safety
  • Treat children according to their age
  • Limit exposure to media
  • Encourage children to share their feelings
  • Share your feelings
  • Focus on the good
  • Encourage children to act
  • Observe children’s emotional state and seek help if necessary.
  • Model healthy behavior and take care of yourself
  • Maintain routines

After a tragedy, kids will have questions. How do we respond? As much as we might want to, we can’t always protect children from witnessing violence and tragedy in the world, whether it’s mass shootings, terrorist attacks, or war. As parents, teachers, and other supportive adults, what we can do is comfort and communicate with children in the most healing way possible.Kira M. Newman, Greater Good Science Center

Monday, May 23, 2022

Integrating Mindfulness into Afterschool Youth Programs



By Sam Piha

For the past decade we have been promoting the use of mindfulness activities in afterschool to address the needs of youth participants and the self-care of youth workers. Integrating mindfulness activities into youth programs to benefit young people and educators has been a very popular educational concept. It appears in the literature on emotional regulation, trauma-informed practice, social emotional learning, grief-responsive teaching, and other leading topics. 

Youth who engaged in mindfulness activities report a greater sense of optimism and well-being, and a reduction in depression, anxiety, stress, and anger. They also benefit academically. Mindfulness activities are also a valuable “self-care” strategy for teachers and afterschool staff, and these activities can be tailored to be used in staff meetings.

On May 31st we are hosting a zoommini-course on integrating mindfulness activities into afterschool youth programs. To learn more and register, click here.







We also recommend Mindfulness in Afterschool, a curriculum written by Temescal Associates. Temescal offers customized training on mindfulness for afterschool leaders. For more information on these resources, write to info@temescalassociates.com

Below we share some comments from a mindfulness leader, Laurie Grossman (Inner Explorer) and educators, Allison Haynes (Riverside County Office of Education), Ken Dyar (Delano Union School District) and Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz (Riverside Unified School District). Each of them has promoted mindfulness techniques at the school and district level and their responses below are from previous LIAS interviews

Q: CAN YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE WHAT MINDFULNESS IS?
Laurie Grossman
Laurie Grossman (LG):
Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgment. Many of us miss a lot of our lives because we live in the past or the future; we spend most of the time in our heads reliving what has already happened or worrying about what is going to happen. By practicing mindfulness, one learns to live more often in the present moment; benefitting from what is actually occurring right now. One of the most common ways to practice mindfulness is to focus on the breath as an anchor to the present.  

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Those benefits as described by the MBSR website include: 

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.

Q: WHY IS MINDFULNESS EFFECTIVE WITH YOUNG PEOPLE? 
LG: Mindfulness lessons are interactive, short and impactful. When teaching mindfulness, we are teaching children about themselves; the curriculum is relevant to them and therefore engaging. Students tell us they can concentrate more easily on their schoolwork, they can calm themselves down, and they feel less stress. The benefits of mindfulness occur rather quickly, students feel better as a result and they enjoy the practice. 

The very first lesson we offered in an Oakland public school resulted in this comment from a third grader, “I think if we do this every day we won’t fight anymore.” I was stunned because the school was one where violence in the community was common. 

Ken Dyar
Ken Dyar (KD):
Children living in poverty or in unhealthy environments are under constant, unending stress. Is it any wonder that they struggle to self-regulate, or attend to a school lesson? In an afterschool program, we are extending their learning day until 6 pm, five days a week. Mindfulness is the perfect way to do this, in my opinion. Additionally, it is a practice that the kids can extend to their lives outside of school. It is a life skill.

Q: WHAT BENEFITS DO YOU BELIEVE MINDFULNESS BRINGS TO YOUNG PEOPLE?
KD:
Stress management, regulating behavior, lowering blood pressure, increasing positiveness, increasing hopefulness, empowering youth to feel that they are in control of themselves. It develops a growth mindset in kids. It gives them a tool to move them forward emotionally and therefore academically.

Q: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT MINDFULNESS IS APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AGE YOUTH? 
Allison Haynes
Allison Haynes (AH):
YES. Why not? Why would we arbitrarily choose a number and determine that until one reaches that age, they are restricted from engaging in a practice that includes benefits such as relaxation, self-regulation of emotions, self-awareness, and compassion for others? 

KD: I do believe that mindfulness is appropriate. I have introduced it to my eighth graders this year. Students in middle school are truly "stuck in the middle." Anyone who has worked with middle school students will tell you that these kids are both babies and adults. They need a tool like mindfulness to manage the swings in mood and emotion. I also believe that educators who use mindfulness with their students will enhance the relationships they have with their kids. Sharing mindfulness with my students has certainly proven to them how much I care about them.

Q: WHAT BENEFITS DO YOU BELIEVE MINDFULNESS BRINGS TO ADULT STAFF? 
AH:
Mindfulness provides immediate feedback to adult staff. Taking a breath while letting the thought pass is indeed helpful when your inner voice is shouting doom and gloom. Interrupting the critical voices in one’s head allows a pathway for creative thinking (which is always necessary for afterschool program adult staff). But engaging in a practice before arriving to engage youth is most valuable because it is during that time that intentions can be set, loving kindness administered, and a stronger connection to compassion forged. 

Q: WOULD YOU RECOMMEND MINDFULNESS TO OTHER AFTERSCHOOL LEADERS?
AH: YES. I’d recommend mindfulness to other afterschool leaders because a practice is good self-care. Additionally, I know afterschool leaders are role models who can’t give what they don’t have. I say, give them what they need and watch it spread.

KD: When I share mindfulness with my kids, one comment I always hear at the beginning is that it is "weird." It's weird because no other teacher they've had has ever shared this with them. Taking a moment to do a body scan, be grateful, be in the moment, etc., is completely foreign to them. It is my wish that mindfulness becomes such a regular part of education that it is never considered "weird" anymore. I wish every teacher on my site spent time using mindfulness with their students. I would certainly recommend the practice to any leaders involved in educating our youth.

Q: WHY ARE YOU TEACHING MINDFULNESS TO SCHOOL DISTRICT STAFF?
Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz
Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz (KRS):
The primary target group for this mindfulness training are our Student Assistance Program (SAP) Counselors and SAP Behavior Support Teams. Additionally, adding mindfulness to their self-care practice will help the team both personally and professionally. We’re hoping that by implementing a mindfulness practice, we will see decreases in anxiety and improvements in self-awareness and social-emotional skills, among other positive changes.


Laurie Grossman is the Director of Social Justice & Educational Equity for Inner Explorer. She cofounded Mindful Schools in 2007. With Angelina Alvarez Manriquez and 4th & 5th grade students at Reach Academy in East Oakland, California, she wrote Master of Mindfulness: How To Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress & Breath Friends Forever.

Allison Haynes is the Administrator of Pupil and Administrative Services at the Riverside County Office of Education. She has worked in the field of education for 25 years, with the last five focused on Expanded Learning Programs. Her experience ranges from working with elementary, middle school, and high school students as a school counselor and/or a site administrator. 

Ken Dyar was named a California Teacher of the Year in 2006.  He is currently a Physical Educator at the Delano Union School District. Prior to this assignment, he was Director of Physical Education and After School Programs, including DUESD's afterschool programs. Ken has taught for over 18 years, teaching 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades. 

Dr. Katarina Roy Schanz is the Coordinator of the Student Assistance Program with Riverside Unified School District. Dr. Roy Schanz has been an educator for 21 years. She has served as a school counselor, assistant principal, and principal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Emerging Issues Impacting Afterschool

By Sam Piha

There are many emerging issues that impact afterschool programs as well as a wealth of articles that focus on them. How do we keep up on reading about issues that you are interested in? Below are some articles and resources arranged by topic. We invite you to click on those that are most relevant to your program. 

YOUTH WHO EXPERIENCE HOUSING INSTABILITY: Housing instability is linked to chronic absenteeism, lower graduation rates, and higher suspension rates among students. Affected students were also disproportionately Latinx, Black, and English language learners.


DECLINING SCHOOL ENROLLMENT: “Kids miss school every day and always have—often for good reasons. But school leaders around the country say they’re struggling with a wave of chronic absenteeism that’s worsened over the course of the pandemic.” 

There are lots of factors, ranging from COVID-specific illness and family disruption to students who have just fallen out of the habit of regular attendance. And while current statistics are scarce, educators say the empty seats don’t make it any easier to get schools back to normal.” – Mark Bomster, Ed Week


YOUTH AND GRIEF: There is a growing awareness of the importance of emotional regulation, social emotional learning, trauma informed practice and healing centered engagement. However, it is important that we understand more about the needs of youth who are grieving or experiencing loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic (deaths and illness, as well as the loss of “normal”), the opioid crisis, the rising gun violence and the racial violence that is plaguing the country.

Source: Ed Week


THE NEEDS OF BOYS: There's an emerging trend in afterschool to focus on the needs of boys, especially boys of color and those from low-income communities.


COVID AND THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN AND TEENS: In our work with young people, it is important that we think about the many ways they may have been impacted by COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can affect adolescents directly and indirectly. Beyond getting sick, many adolescents’ social, emotional and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage may have long-term consequences across their lifespan."

From the very first waves of school closures and lockdowns in 2020, the pandemic significantly damaged children’s mental health in ways teachers are still coping with and researchers are still struggling to understand.” – Sarah D. Sparks, Ed Week

Source: Ed Week


AFTERSCHOOL WORKER SHORTAGE: Recruiting, hiring, and retaining afterschool workers have been longstanding issues. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit—and these issues were greatly exacerbated. They had resulted in programs closing, drastically reducing capacity, and adding stress to afterschool workers. Many of these challenges are not unique to the afterschool field- they are being experienced by those in education and a wide range of fields. We know that the issue of staff shortages is not new to veteran afterschool program leaders. However, we felt it is important to summarize what we know in the time of COVID-19.


The most pressing problem facing afterschool is the nationwide shortage of workers.
– Michael Funk, Director of CDE Expanded Learning Division


YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: According to the Afterschool Alliance, “The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring that all children have the ability to participate in immersive, relevant, and hands-on civic engagement opportunities.” Not only are civic engagement strategies participatory strategies, they contribute to the positive development of youth and the health of our democracy. 

Youth Work Basics

By Sam Piha The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with afterschool programs. The one silver lining was the abundance of online professional de...