Title: Examining Quality in After School Programs: The Primary Features, Good Model and the Overall Effects on Students’ Wellbeing


Over the past decade, there has been an increased demand for quality Afterschool Program (ASP) due to many reasons (e.g., to decrease juvenile crime rate, the high cost of living required both parents to work, and to provide a safe space for children during after school hours) (Byrd & Zhang, 206, Wu & Van Egeren, 2010, and Youth.gov, 2019). In the state of California (CA), and especially in high-cost cities like San Francisco, most families require both parents to work and at least one of them has a full-time employment. Hence, ASP become paramount and not only for the academic reasons alone. The shift in our current culture driven by economic necessity dictates that a family of four residing in the Bay Area must earn less than $33,000 to qualify for state financial assistance. (USDA, 2019). Parents do their best to attempt to have balance in their personal and professional lives, and part of that balance is knowing that they have a trusted, supportive community that looks after their most prized possession, their child. According to the Afterschool Alliance (2019) data, 82% of CA parents say, “afterschool help them keep their jobs”. In 2019, Among CA’s K-12 students, about 1.6 million students are enrolled in afterschool, 2.4 million are waiting for an available program, and 1.2 million students are alone and unsupervised during after school hours (Afterschool Alliance, 2019).

With the increase of ASP, participants, educators, and communities have asked critical questions of what elements contribute to creating a quality ASP and what outcome do ASPs have on the participants (i.e., students and parents) and community, whether it is a positive or negative affect. Data are shown from Risk to Opportunity: Afterschool Programs Keep Kids Safe When Juvenile Crime Peaks, determined that 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the peak time for juvenile crime in California during school days, with 35% of juvenile crimes occurring during this time period. Many types of research (Wade (2015)., Bryrd & Zhang, (2006)., Bolt, Pierce, & Vandell, (2010)., and Mahoney, Parente, & Lord, 2007.) have proven that child and adolescent will experience a better life when positive adults’ guidance in learning to navigate life experiences are involved. Adolescents’ prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain is not fully developed yet; therefore, young children need adult guidance and support to navigate their lives through childhood before reaching adulthood. (Mahoney, Parente, & Lord, 2007). This research study will explore what features contribute to a quality ASP, analyze the effects of the program, and how it affects the participants and the community.

The majority of my educational career has been involved with youth work and out of school time. There are many important parts about ASP that people outside of the program are unaware of, such as . The logistics in ASP are a crucial part of the program, particularly when it is in the implementation phase. In order to have a greater understanding of what important characteristics play a vital role in quality ASP, I will dive into many research studies that examine the features and their effects on the participants. As I embark on my investigation, I pose the following overarching question: What factors cause the demand for a quality ASP in schools and why? How do quality ASPs benefit and impact students’ lives? More specifically, I ask, how does the socioeconomic play into the demand of ASP. The goal of this literature review is to understand the factors that cause the demand for quality ASP in schools and how quality ASPs impact the participating students lives.



Literature Review

Factors for Afterschool Program (ASP)

In San Francisco Bay Area, there are many great features about this region that makes people from near and far decide to inhabit here: the seasonal weather, accessible public transportation, a wide variety of activities for various age groups, and of course being the home and heart of Silicon Valley. All of it comes at a price of the high cost of living which demands most families to have two working parents and resulted in adults being unavailable to attend to their children (Byrd & Zhang, 2006). Therefore, parents seek to find quality programs for their children to attend during after school hours while parents are at work. Another important component that contributes to the demand of quality ASPs is the high juvenile crime rate during the 2pm – 6pm hours, with 35% of juvenile crimes occurring during this time period (Afterschool Alliance, 2019). With the high cost of living that demands both parents to work and the juvenile crime rate, it is imperative that children and adolescents have a safe environment that they can go to after school, have the appropriate adult guidance and support; then this is where quality ASPs come in (Wu & Van Egeren, 2010).

This research will also look into the other side which is the barriers that hinder families from participating in ASPs. Is it the cost and lack of a safe way for children to travel to and from afterschool programs for low-income families? These are reports from African-American families and Hispanic families who have reported that these are the reasons why they are unable to enroll their children in an afterschool program (Ford & O’Donnell, 2013). This leads back to parents view on ASP and how their perspective plays a crucial role in students’ involvement with ASPs. Parents perception of the programs and its benefits to their children will be a major influence on whether or not they want to enroll their children in the program.

Features of Quality ASPs

ASPs do not receive the recognition that it deserves for its work in education and child development. Others may only perceive ASPs as a safe place for children to attend when they have nowhere else to go during after school hours and there is no other relevance for the program. In reality, there are several features of ASPs that makes it a quality program for the community. Here are some of the important features: the staff, staff relationship with the students, diverse activities, and program’s flexibilities and their concurrent associations with child developmental outcomes (Bolt et al., 2010).

Staff in ASP plays a crucial part in the program. The staff brings the guidance, support, and nurturing aspects that children and adolescents crave and need, particularly when they do not receive it at home. When a staff is able to build trust and a positive relationship with the students, it allows staff to have a better understanding of the student and their needs, which leads to greater service for all. Staff training is also a crucial piece to having an effective ASPs especially for programs that have specific target goals such as improving students literacy skills (Hirsch, Mekinda, & Stawicki, 2010). It is also important to train staff who are inexperienced in the ASP field because of its different structure than a classroom setting. Program directors and coordinators should require all new staff to have a training/shadowing week (Wade, 2015).

Lastly, ASP staff wages also plays an important factor. In addition to not receiving the recognition that ASP staff deserves, the wages for the staff far less competitive than any other childcare jobs. This is partly caused by others, outside the field, viewing the job as equivalent to babysitting (Wade, 2015). Other features like diverse activities and program’s flexibility allows parents the option to either provide opportunities for their children to participate in enrichment classes or have them enroll in the school’s ASP (Bolt et al, 2010). Some parents opt not to have their child be involved in any ASP and that may be due to limited source of income (Byrd & Zhang, 2006). The review of all factors will allow us to understand what is the primary reason families partake in any ASPs or not. I will look into the local and the program’s policies and how it impact the ASPs as a whole and individually (Wu & Van Egeren, 2010).

The Impact on Student’s Wellbeing

ASP impact on the overall student’s well being has been mixed with both positive and negative outcomes. There are many aspects that ASP affect from social/emotional functioning,  positive outlook on physical health and nutrition (Beets, Beighlem, Huberty, Weaver, &  Webster, 2012), and academic achievement depending on the students the different level (Byrd & Zhang, 2006, Ford & O’Donnell, 2013, & Wade, 2015). Also, I will analyze how ASPs have various impacts on different types of adolescent like at-risk youth. At-risk youth group may have higher expectations set for them and the outcome will be focused more on their actions and it can rehabilitate the negative behaviors (Kremer, Maynard, Polanin, Sarteschi, & Vaughn, 2014). The goal is to gain knowledge on what features contribute to quality ASPs and finding more about the results of the effects it has on students’ success and wellbeing.












Afterschool Alliance (2019). Afterschool in California – New Data: From a Time of Risk to a Time of Opportunity. https://afterschoolalliance.org/policyStateFacts.cfm?state=CA

Beets, M. W.,  Beighle, A., Huberty, J., Weaver, Robert G., &  Webster, C. (April, 2012). A Conceptual Model for Training After‐School Program Staffers to Promote Physical Activity and Nutrition. The Journal of School Health, Vol.82(4), pp.186-95.

Bolt, D. M., Pierce, K. M., & Vandell, D. L. (2010). Specific Features of After-School Program


Quality: Associations with Children’s Functioning in Middle Childhood. Am J Community Psychol, 45:381-393. doi:10.1007/s10464-010-9304-2.

Byrd, C. and Zhang, J. (October, 2006). Successful After-School Programs: The 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance,  pp.3-6,12

Hirsch, B. J., Mekinda, M. A., & Stawicki, J. (2010). More Than Attendance: The Importance of After-School Program Quality. Am J Community Psychol, 45:447–452. https://doi-org.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/10.1007/s10464-010-9310-4

Kremer, K., Maynard, B., Polanin, J., Sarteschi, C., & Vaughn, M. (2015). Effect of After-School Programs With At-Risk Youth on Attendance and Externalizing Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol.44(3), pp.616-636.

Mahoney, J. L., Parente, M. E., & Lord, H. (2007). After-School Program Engagement: Links to Child Competence and Program Quality and Content. Elementary School Journal. Vol.107 (4), pp.385-404.

Ford, J. & O’Donnell, P. (2013). The Continuing Demand for 21st Century Community Learning Centers across America: More than four billion dollars of unmet need; Peterson, T., Fowler, S. and Dunham, T.F. (2013). “Creating the Recent Force Field: A Growing Infrastructure for Quality Afterschool and Summer Learning Opportunities.” Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success. Washington, D.C.: Collaborative Communications Group.

U.S. Department of Agriculture – USDA. (n.d.) Retrieved on November 2019. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Eligibility. https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility  

Wade, C. E. (2015). The longitudinal effects of after-school program experiences, quantity, and regulatable features on children’s social–emotional development. Children and Youth Services Review. 48:70-79. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.12.007.

Wu, H. J.  and Van Egeren, L. A. (2010). Voluntary Participation and Parents’ Reasons for Enrollment in After-School Programs: Contributions of Race/Ethnicity, Program Quality, and Program Policies. Journal of Leisure Research, Vol.42(4), pp.591-620.


Youth.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2019. Afterschool Programs. From https://youth.gov/youth- topics/afterschool-programs.