Since 2011, the Raikes Foundation in collaboration with School’s Out Washington (SOWA) has worked to improve the quality of out-of-school time programs serving youth in Washington state. During this time, we’ve partnered with organizations to establish a clear, measurable definition of quality, a continuous improvement process to help programs achieve quality, and professional development opportunities to empower front-line staff interacting with youth. More recently, the tools have been adapted to meet the specific needs of summer learning OST programs. In Washington, communities are already making deep investments in summer learning to improve academic outcomes, and we hope even more summer programs will work to strengthen their quality in the future.
For the 13th year, School’s Out Washington hosted the Bridge Conference for afterschool and youth development professionals on October 19th-20th. Nearly 450 participants came to learn about the newest research and topics in the out-of-school time field and to reflect on how to facilitate learning and inspire curiosity in the young people they serve.
Quality afterschool programming is one way to give youth hands-on experiences that target multiple domains of learning. In Washington, the Raikes Foundation has been supporting youth development programs to use the Weikart Center’s Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI). The YPQI is a tool that helps programs learn more about the important elements of quality, assess their own program strengths and areas of growth with a validated measure and then use data to set program goals that are supported by coaches and professional development.
Wallingford Boys & Girls Club has been using the YPQI process since 2013. In that time, the club has been able to increase the staff’s ability to infuse higher quality practice into every aspect of the program. YPQI has helped club employees to better-understand the most effective ways to interact with youth and how to structure programs so that there is maximum social and academic benefit for members.