After school programs for youth have become increasingly popular as policymakers are suggesting it as a solution for various juvenile problems. But there are certain challenges unique to such programs.
There is a need on the part of policymakers, federal government and financiers to balance their expectations of these programs with the realities which they can actually achieve.
The challenges which after-school programs face in New York are nearly similar to the challenges that schools face in general. Although these programs have remained community oriented and have not been influenced much by bureaucracy, these qualities have actually made it challenging for the coherent development of after-school programs.
It has become difficult to maintain the quality of after-school programs due to lack of proper training of the directors. Regulations do exist which define their credentials for the post, but these are not properly enforced in New York City.
The basic requirement specified by the state for becoming an accredited program director of an after-school training program is to meet the educational requirements. Unfortunately, however, many veterans in the field do not meet this basic requirement. This is because while many may have pursued higher education at some point, their academic course load may not have concentrated in key areas (i.e.; Child Development, Elementary Education, Recreation or a related field) designated by the state to fulfil such requirements. Such course study is critical for those choosing to stay in the field as experience in and of itself is not enough.
Well-prepared, educated and trained directors understand the foundational requirements of child and youth development as well as how to efficiently deal with staff and other challenges.
There are federal regulations which are intended to support the After School Program regulations in New York City, but they are not properly enforced. Due to this lack of enforcement, these programs are not able to attain their full potential.
There remain gaps in their policies, education and training programs as well as in the training of staff members. These are big challenges which become a hurdle in the effective and smooth operations of after school programs.
It should be a mandate for after-school program directors as a part of their professional development to receive proper accreditation. This will enable them to identify the benefits and challenges imposed by the regulations. Further trained Directors are equipped with the tools necessary to address such challenges, implementing solid structures which will facilitate smooth operation of the program.
As a credentialed and trained director, you are in a better position to develop the right skills to operate your program in accordance with set regulations.
A professional credential will provide you with the opportunity to look at your after-school program in New York City through a reflective lens. This will enable you to identify various gaps that exist in your program and you will be in a better position to bridge those gaps through proper planning, execution and implementation.
Credentialed and trained directors with the knowledge of school age care regulations can have a positive influence on the establishment of effective and well-executed after-school programs in New York City.