The experiences of staff in an after-school program

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard W. Lewis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Peck

Abstract: In this qualitative study, I examine the experiences of staff who work in an after-school program (ASP). Specifically, I investigate their roles in the program, how they support the building of meaningful relationships with their participants, and their perceptions of the effectiveness of the program. Prior to COVID-19, after-school programs were intended to provide a safe environment for students during after-school hours. There is a growing recognition that after-school programs provide opportunities for positive social development, particularly among adolescents (Farrell et al., 2013). In the midst of the pandemic, ASPs transitioned into all-day programs due to school closures. This transition allowed programs to provide support to students and families who were impacted by the coronavirus, had limited Internet access, and had to adapt to virtual instruction. It was important to understand staff members’ perspectives of their roles in developing meaningful relationships with students in order to support the students’ positive development into young adults, especially in the current setting. I conducted basic qualitative research in this study (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). I chose this research approach because I was interested in how staff interpreted their roles and experiences, how they defined their work, and what meaning they attached to their roles. Positive Youth Development (PYD) Theory served as my conceptual framework for this study. As the name implies, central to PYD is the idea that youth have the potential to change and that such change can support individual well-being as well as the social good that is influenced by the developing person (Benson et al., 2007). Data were drawn from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange County (BGCDOC) after-school programs via a series of staff interviews. In determining my findings, I developed and applied codes to the transcripts in order to surface central themes. I used member checks as well as peer reviews to help ensure ethical integrity in my research. The reader is able to view the program through the lens of staff, all of whom were at least 18 years old and worked in the program as staff or as a director. My findings revealed that staff saw themselves as valuable resources to their participants, providing support that extended beyond the program’s hours. They viewed the inter-personal relationships they formed as beneficial to themselves and also saw how their interactions with teens had the potential to save their young lives in their at-risk neighborhood settings. I concluded that ASPs, especially in the midst of the pandemic, provided supports for students that could prove to be beneficial to families, participants, and community stake-holders in how to best meet the socioemotional needs of children in any setting.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Adult child relationships, After-school, OST, Out of school time, At-risk mentorship, Community engagement, Culturally responsive, Positive youth development
After-school programs
Youth development
Teenagers and adults
Community education

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