MTAA Releases Guiding Principles for Quality

Montana programs serving school-aged youth before school, after school and during the summer months have one more resource to assure youth are served in a high quality setting.  Montana Afterschool Alliance has announced the release of their new publication, ‘Guiding Principles for Quality Out-of-School Time (OST) Programs’.  

“The guiding principles were developed by Montana programs for Montana programs,“ says Laurie Bishop, the Director of Montana Afterschool Alliance.  “Kids spend eighty percent of their time outside of school, making the opportunities they have during this time vital to their development and success. Research shows that the greatest benefit is derived specifically when youth participate in a high quality program.  This is how we help all students succeed in academics and life.”

The guiding principles were developed with the support of a statewide workgroup comprised of experienced practitioners. Workgroup members came from communities of all sizes, as well as various settings where youth are served including libraries, YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H and schools. Representatives from Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Public Instruction also participated. 

MTAA received a research-based program grant from REL Northwest to support the project and programs around the state were also invited to provide feedback on a draft this past spring.  The finished product was released on August 8 at the Afterschool & Beyond Conference held in Bozeman and are also available on the MTAA website, mtafterschoolalliance.org. Future MTAA professional development offerings will be aligned to the guiding principles to help programs utilize them as part of a continuous improvement process.

Says Bishop, ‘We started with the knowledge that programs in Montana already do great work. These guiding principles, and the ongoing professional development that MTAA will offer to support them, can help programs plan and train their employees.  A well-supported workforce really builds the foundation for quality.”

Montana Afterschool Alliance is the afterschool network that provides advocacy and support for programs serving PreK through high school-aged youth statewide.  They are in the process of developing a statewide database of programs which will be available to the public later this year.