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Afterschool Quality Matters

Afterschool and summer learning programs possess great potential to make a positive impact on youth, families and communities. Research shows that these programs increase positive outcomes for youth, such as gains in reading and math, improved work habits, strong social skills and reduced risky behaviors. However, the afterschool field cannot achieve these outcomes without quality programs staffed by highly qualified professionals. To ensure that afterschool programs help meet the needs of youth and families, program providers must understand and implement the best practices that have been shown to support positive outcomes.

West Virginia Afterschool Program Quality Standards

The West Virginia Afterschool Program Quality Standards are set of guidelines backed by research and best practices from the fields of youth development and education. They unite the diverse afterschool field by providing a common language to define what quality looks like in the many places that youth programming happens outside of the school day. The West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network, in collaboration with the West Virginia Department Division of Human Services Early Care and Education, the West Virginia Department of Education Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and a host of stakeholders from various organizations across the state, fully revised the West Virginia Afterschool Program Quality Standards which were launched in March 2024.

The Quality Standards are broken down into eight domains representing key areas of quality. These include:

  • Domain 1: Administration

  • Domain 2: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • Domain 3: Family, School and Community Connection

  • Domain 4: Health, Safety and Nutrition

  • Domain 5: Indoor and Outdoor Environments

  • Domain 6: Intentional Relationships

  • Domain 7: Leadership and Professionalism

  • Domain 8: Activities

The Quality Standards are a low-stakes, voluntary tool afterschool and summer learning programs can use to assess program quality, plan continuous quality improvement efforts, and identify relevant staff professional development topics. The Quality Standards are also a valuable tool for afterschool stakeholders and can be accessed by completing this form, then a link to the standards will be emailed to you.

Assessment Tool

The West Virginia Afterschool Program Quality Standards has an Assessment Tool that is designed for flexibility of use and caters to a variety of audiences. Afterschool providers can utilize the tool in its entirety or in part to assess program quality and guide continuous improvement efforts. Caregivers can use the tool to understand the key elements of a high-quality program and inform decision making when choosing a program for their child. The tool can also be used by funders and policy makers to help link funding to research-based practices or to evaluate programs for funding.

Parents and Families: Understand the key elements of a high-quality program and be able to advocate for quality programs for their children and within their own communities.

Funders and Policymakers: Link funding to research-based practices that lead to measurable outcomes and evaluate and improve programs.

K-12 Educators: Understand the key elements of high-quality programs, provide a common language for partnership, and provide a guide to reinforce and advance key priorities.

Higher Education: Assist in designing content for courses related to youth development providers and in choosing strategic partners for research initiatives.

For access to the West Virginia Program Quality Standards Assessment Tool complete this survey. A link to access the Assessment Tool will be emailed to you.