Changing afterschool settings for positive youth development: An examination of a setting level capacity-building intervention in afterschool programs
Afterschool programs have long been seen as exemplary delivery systems for safe, structured activities that prevent negative behaviors (i.e. substance use, delinquency) as well as promote positive youth development (Eccles & Gootman, 2002). However, researchers and advocates for youth-serving organizations point out the need for capacity-building with such programs as a way to increase their effectiveness and sustainability (Borden, Craig, & Villarruel, 2004; Bumbarger & Greenberg, 2002; Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak, Hawkins, 2004; Johnson, Rothstein, & Gajdosik, 2004). At the same time, attention has turned to efforts to strengthen these organizations through impacting the social setting, rather than simply implementing new program activities, as a way to support positive youth-adult relationships, youth-centered norms, and opportunities for youth participation in organizational activities (Tseng & Seidman, 2007). The fusion of capacity-building efforts and a focus on settings is therefore seen as a key to harnessing the potential of such programs. However, there have been few if any randomized studies on the impact of such activities on afterschool settings. Based on the theoretical foundations of setting theories, the current research examined the effects of the Kansas Afterschool Leadership Development Initiative (KALDI) organizational capacity-building intervention on afterschool site settings. Fourteen afterschool sites were randomly assigned to an intervention or comparison condition. The primary focus of KALDI with the seven intervention sites was on strengthening positive youth-adult relationships, youth-centered norms, and youth participation in meaningful roles. Results indicated that while the intervention was useful in establishing basic capacity-building elements, it was not powerful enough to create setting-level changes. Process and setting-level outcomes, limitations and lessons learned in the implementation of KALDI are discussed.
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