For the second year, the AYDC Youth Program Quality (YPQ) initiative will engage Anchorage youth programs in continuous improvement to support positive development experiences and better outcomes for youth. This initiative supports youth development programs serving children and youth, ages 5 to 21 years old, in Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage schools and youth development programs have long been champions for positive climate in our schools, meaningful youth-adult relationships, and experiences that help youth build the breadth of skills and mindsets critical to their readiness for life’s challenges and opportunities. In recent years organizations have worked toward a coordinated approach to measuring how effectively those program elements are delivered.
At the same time across the country, networks of youth providers have found success in adopting a continuous quality improvement approach most commonly referred to as youth program quality improvement.
The purpose of a youth program quality initiative is to build a “professional learning community where each individual is engaged as a change agent in developing
in a low stakes accountability environment.” (Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality)
An organization engages staff in three phases of a continuous improvement cycle: assess, plan, and improve.
In the assess phase staff observe each other at work, taking objective notes on aspects of the environment, interactions and youth engagement. In the plan phase, staff come together to look at the data collected, and collectively set priorities for improvements they will make. The final phase is about implementing the plan, which could include professional development or changes in curriculum.
All participants in the initiative will use the David P. Weikart Center for Program Quality Social and Emotional Learning Program Quality Assessment tool (SEL PQA). The SEL PQA is used to assess program quality features and create customized action plans to enhance the program. The SEL PQA focuses on key areas of quality at the point where staff and youth interact: a safe space, supportive environment, youth/adult and peer interactions, and youth engagement. The SEL PQA helps staff to objectively identify program strengths and gaps, and is linked to training modules that help address self-identified areas for improvement.
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