Identifying Quality After-School Programs

Program Quality Matters for Adolescent Outcomes

A new Child Trends research brief finds positive outcomes for adolescents in high-quality out-of-school time programs, but no significant differences between adolescents in low-quality programs and those not in a program at all. The brief, How Out-of-School Time Program Quality is Related to Adolescent Outcomes, is based on data from the Every Child Every Promise survey commissioned by the America’s Promise Alliance.  For adolescents ages 12-17, it also finds:

11.5 percent are not in a program, 11.4 percent are in a low-quality program, 45.4 percent are in a medium-quality program, and 31.7 percent are in a high-quality program.
Adolescents in low-quality programs have similar outcomes to adolescents in no program.
Adolescents in medium-quality programs have better school performance than those not in a program, but do not have significantly fewer risky behaviors or significantly greater social competence.
Adolescents in high-quality programs are more likely to avoid risky behaviors, to have better performance in school, and to have greater social competence, than those in no program, even taking account of confounding factors.

High-quality out-of-school time programs are defined as those that promote a sense of physical and emotional safety, enable youth to build positive relationships, allow youth a role in decisions, and support development of social skills, like conflict resolution, leadership, and teamwork.