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Training, Support Unlocking WA After-School Programs' Potential

About 330,000 Washington state kids are waiting for an after-school program. (Monkey Business/Adobe Stock)
About 330,000 Washington state kids are waiting for an after-school program. (Monkey Business/Adobe Stock)
February 17, 2020

SEATTLE -- After-school organizations in Washington state are utilizing training and other support systems to create better programs for their students.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families is an organization that works with youth with disabilities from culturally diverse communities. It's reaching children who often are under-resourced and may not be able to participate in other after-school programs.

But resources for the nonprofit organization itself can also be thin, which is where coaching from organizations such as School's Out Washington can provide a big boost.

Kayla Nichols, youth program coordinator for Open Doors for Multicultural Families, says outside coaching and training help her create more purposeful programs.

"We're able to work with youth with different behavioral statuses, and we also are able to run a program that focuses on each student's ability," she points out.

Nichols says one of the most important tools for guiding programs is listening to students and their needs.

Adam Swensen is team leadership program director for YMCA Spokane, which gets training and outside assessments to measure how well its program is supporting youth. He says creating quality programming for children is important because of the support it gives them, but also because it shows that programs want what's best for their children.

"Whether we're giving them opportunities to work alongside each other in a mentorship-collaboration kind of way, those kind of things show that we're really intentional about how we care about our teens and the people in our program, as well as it really empowers teens and creates a safe space for them," he states.

The need is high for after-school programs in Washington state. According to the Afterschool Alliance, more than 330,000 children are waiting for a program.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA