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Professional Development

NAA publishes fresh, new content every week covering a wide variety of topics related to the field of aftershool. In addition, NAA offers a variety of opportunities for virtual professional development (PD) through meaningful content, conversations and connections. Click here to see full descriptions of virtual PD offerings.

Professionalizing the Afterschool Field: Core Competencies

The NAA Core Knowledge and Competencies (CKCs) for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals were designed through the collaborative efforts of NAA, the Child & Youth Care Certification Board, and the National Institute of Out-of-School Time. 

The Core Knowledge and Competencies Self-Assessment Tools were created to:

  • Establish what professionals need to know and be able to do to provide quality child and youth programming.
  • Outline a course of study for the professional.
  • Show concrete, observable and achievable skills.
  • Establish standards of practice that strengthen the profession.
  • Create a foundation for professional development and career advancement.
  • Provide a resource that may be used to influence the development of career ladders, credentials and other assessments of practitioners.

The final product represents the conclusion of 10+ years of work to identify and come to agreement on the knowledge and skills involved in professional afterschool practice; a way to support the professionalization of the field and represent the afterschool field as a unified national effort to communities, public policy planners, funders and others.

In addition, Core Knowledge and Competencies Self-Assessment Tools have been developed to help the field operationalize the competencies. These uses have been identified for a variety of audiences:


  • Self-evaluation.
  • Professional development goal-setting and planning.
  • Tracking or documenting training and other professional development activities.

Director or Administrator

  • Create job descriptions.
  • Interview and hire staff.
  • Plan orientation and training.
  • Conduct staff evaluations.
  • Set professional development goals.
  • Establish salary scales.

Leader or Trainer

  • Encourage continuous improvement.
  • Align training to staff needs and requirements.
  • Document professional development activities.
  • Build professional development systems.
  • Design and develop relevant staff training.

Both the the NAA Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals and the Self-Assessment Tools may be found and downloaded at www.naaweb.org/resources. Bulk copies are available to order from the NAA Resource Print Center at http://naaweb.org/resources/resource-print-center.