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Advancing Equity and Inclusion in Hiring and Staff Development in OST

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 14:22

Over the last 20 years, Out-of-School Time (OST) has progressed with research, practice, and policies related to program quality, yet workforce stability, recruitment, and retention of direct-service workers continues to be a challenge. The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) recently launched the Thriving Out-of-School Workforce Initiative focused on creating a strong and valued profession. In talking about the initiative, Angelica Portillo, NAA’sDirector of Advocacy and Workforce Initiatives, shared, "Moving this invaluable workforce forward is necessary for upholding our commitment to equity, access, and quality."

Underrepresentation and discrimination are often encountered in the OST field.  Direct-service staff tends to reflect the communities they work in, but our field has not retained and grown those staff, particularly staff of color, into leadership positions.  A 2019 NAA study found that while 67% of front-line staff were people of color, only 58% of site directors and 34% of executive directors were people of color. OST is rooted in creating safe and welcoming environments for all young people and can lead by using similar philosophies to enact equitable hiring and staff development practices. 

A recent NAA webinar shared workforce trends and the new OST's Leaders Guide Equitable Hiring and Staff Development Practices. The presentation highlighted equity in recruitment and hiring, onboarding and professional development, and performance reviews and feedback.  Participants discussed their challenges and successes and learned from each other while reviewing the Guide’s best practices, guiding questions to support policy and practice changes, and no- to low-cost resources that support the implementation of equitable practices. The webinar audience also heard from Shawna Rosenzweig, Chief Strategy Officer at Camp Fire National Headquarters and NAA Board member, who stated, "We can't support young people if we aren't supporting our staff. This webinar and guide are an opportunity to begin mending one of the most challenging and broken systems in our field, which is the hiring process."

Heidi Ham, NAA’s Chief Operating Officer, concluded, “The guide is intended to catalyze the OST workforce, our stakeholders and partners to examine systems, elevate practices and policies that will build and strengthen the field. This resource is just the beginning of support needed to make the necessary comprehensive changes.”

A comprehensive OST job quality overhaul–rethinking compensation and schedules, making benefits accessible, and creating career pathways–is needed.  OST must design quality jobs and provide support to develop and sustain the workforce, beginning with equitable hiring practices. Guaranteeing job quality creates workforce stability, allowing afterschool professionals to deliver high-quality programs, ultimately leading to positive youth outcomes. 

Join us on August 31st at 1 PM EST for our next webinar, Designing Jobs That Support Program Quality.Quality OST programs rely on a stable workforce of skilled professionals. Together, we must design quality jobs and provide support to develop and sustain the OST workforce. Join this webinar to learn more about NAA's Thriving OST Workforce Initiative and provide input on the new OST Job Design Framework.

Additional NAA Resources:

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Check out these NAA Articles on the OST Workforce: