In the United States, approximately 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs; that number is rising steadily. Research shows that high-quality afterschool programs can both support positive youth outcomes—including enhanced academic, social, and emotional skills—and prevent poor youth outcomes.
In recent years, the afterschool field (e.g., practitioners, policymakers, and researchers) has begun to elucidate how afterschool practices can support positive youth development. However, the field would benefit from a more comprehensive and precise understanding of which protective and promotive factors are most likely to lead to positive outcomes for children who participate in afterschool programs. To address this gap in current knowledge, Child Trends, the Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC), and LA’s BEST—a large afterschool program in Los Angeles—developed a white paper for program leaders, policymakers, and other afterschool stakeholders that provides a common approach for addressing three important developmental outcomes in childhood and adolescence: substance misuse and abuse, problem behaviors, and academic performance.
This brief summarizes key findings from the white paper, which included:
- Conducting a review of the literature (limited to meta-analyses) on protective and promotive factors that (1) support positive developmental outcomes among youth, (2) are malleable through intervention, and (3) have direct relevance to the afterschool context
- Summarizing evidence-informed practices demonstrated to foster protective and promotive factors in afterschool settings
- Developing a conceptual model for building protective and promotive factors in afterschool