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OST Workforce: The Indiana Afterschool Network is Bridging the Gap

Monday, 13 June 2022 09:46

We all deeply feel the challenges of our current OST reality--from worker shortages, minimal job quality, and growing program waitlists. NAA and its State Affiliates are stepping up to advocate for the OST workforce.

NAA's Director of Advocacy and Workforce Initiatives, Angelica Portillo, recently joined Indiana Afterschool Network's Summit on Out-of-School Learning. The Summit brought together youth programs, community partners, and afterschool advocates to connect, explore new ideas, access valuable resources, and advance learning beyond the school day for Indiana's youth. 

Research shows that skilled and knowledgeable staff are the key to quality programs that result in positive youth outcomes. During a day-long Summit pre-conference session, NAA State Affiliate, IAN, prioritized bridging the gap between current reality and the vision of Summit participants related to the OST Workforce's future. Portillo's role? Welcoming participants, engaging in conversations about job quality, making connections between state and national efforts, and sharing workforce development resources.

In addition, during the pre-con devoted to advancing the OST workforce, participants spent time envisioning a robust OST field. A future with livable wages, benefits, sustainability, and flexibility--all components of job quality--were top of mind for participants. 

Tory Brinson from the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children summed up the collective vision nicely, "All OST programs have well-educated and compensated staff that felt valued and appreciated for their important work." This statement is a guiding light for IAN's ongoing workforce development efforts.

"As NAA continues to prioritize creating a Thriving OST Workforce, we appreciate being invited and included in conversations supporting improved job quality and applaud IAN for tackling the tough issues," commented Heidi Ham, Chief Operating Officer at NAA. When asked about her conference experience, Portillo said, "Ultimately, the people of Indiana gave me hope. IAN brought together a room full of dedicated youth development professionals who love their communities and want our field to prosper. Great things happen when people show up, and they did!"

We've got more work to do to make the vision of a valued and compensated workforce a reality, but together we can make a difference! Check out these articles to learn more about and join in on NAA's Creating a Thriving OST Workforce Initiative.

Three Barriers Preventing a Thriving Workforce
How Do We Create a Thriving Workforce