After school and out-of-school time programs can play an important role in the healthy development of young people, as long as the program is high quality. A growing body of research has found that youth program quality is linked to improved academic achievement, work habits and social skills. On the other hand, participation in poor quality programs can have detrimental effects.
High quality programs incorporate program features that support positive and healthy development that include: (1) Physical and Psychological Safety; (2) Appropriate Structure; (3) Supportive Relationships; (4) Opportunities to Belong; (5) Positive Social Norms; and (6) Support for Efficacy and Mattering.
Because youth program quality is so vital to supporting positive outcomes for youth, the Minnesota Department of Education, through partnerships with a variety of youth program providers, funders and the Youth Work Institute at University of Minnesota, is working to build a culture and infrastructure for continuous quality improvement in Minnesota.