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October 10, 2019

Emergencies happen, and it’s your job to be ready when they do. Natural and human-caused threats to safety can take many forms. A sudden thunderstorm may knock down power lines and flood roads, or a family dispute may leave the home and enter your program site. Prepare now to respond to an emergency by making sure you have a targeted, up-to-date safety plan and training to support it.

The new Y4Y Click & Go, Developing and Implementing a Safety Plan, offers guidance and tools to help. Here are a few highlights from the mini-lesson, podcasts and tools; consider what you already know, and explore to begin your next steps.

Look for an existing safety plan. Most schools and community organizations that regularly host activities for children and families have safety plans in place. You need to know whether and how your 21st CCLC program is included in the host organization’s plan. Start by using the Safety Plan Meeting Request to get a copy of the plan and connect with the site’s safety leader.

If necessary, adapt or update the safety plan to your situation. Perhaps the out-of-school time program is new and wasn’t included in the host site’s plan. Work with the site safety leader to determine how your staff and students should respond to various situations. Use the Site Coordinator Safety Checklist to make sure you consider important areas and procedures, such as using a fire extinguisher, locking and unlocking doors and windows, sheltering in place, and evacuating your space.

Create and implement a Training and Practice Plan. Train staff members and practice safety procedures with them and with students. This will help to reduce chaos and confusion during an emergency and will reduce anxiety for everyone, families included.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Stay in regular touch with the host organization’s safety leader, so both sides know if anything about a safety plan needs to change. When you practice safety procedures, ask to be sure everyone understands their role or knows whose lead to follow. Use the Communication With Families About Safety tool to guide set-up of contact procedures during an emergency.

Get set to become “emergency ready” with the Y4Y Safety Click & Go.



October 10, 2019

“Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about growing others.” As a 21st CCLC program leader, you no doubt see the wisdom in this insight from business leader Jack Welch. After all, supporting and acknowledging your team’s professional growth benefits your program as well as individual staff members. It also helps you retain staff because it shows you’re invested in their success and treasure their contributions.

Y4Y’s new online Human Resources course walks you through nine key strategies you can use to manage and develop your staff. It covers everything from hiring to training to building a positive work environment to managing staff performance. Here are three tips you can start using right away:

Help staff members find their sweet spot. If Natalie loves to plan, enlist her to help plan the next Family Literacy Event or Citizen Science Experience. Once she’s had success, provide opportunities for her to grow her skills and use them in new ways. For example, ask her to lead a planning team, create an event planning checklist for staff, train others in event planning, or join a strategic planning session. If these tasks seem to take her out of her comfort zone, provide encouragement and support. Helping her find the “sweet spot” between current and potential abilities will help her grow.

Provide feedback to focus and inspire your staff. Let’s say Natalie loves planning so much that she offers to help students plan their culminating project presentations. As you observe her interact with students, you hear her say things like “Let’s do it this way” and “Here’s a better idea.” Should you call her aside and say, “Natalie, you’re making too many decisions for students instead of letting them make their own. I’d like to see you improve in this area.” Or should you say, “Natalie, I’d love for our students to develop their project planning and decision-making skills. Would you be willing to team with Linda to plan some coaching strategies to help students learn and practice these skills?” Which feedback is more likely to inspire and support Natalie in changing her approach? For most people, the second approach works best. See the Coaching My Staff section of Y4Y’s Human Resources course for ways to coach your staff (especially site coordinators) to program gold!

Recognize good work. Use formal and informal strategies to tell staff members their contributions are noticed and valued. For example, during employee reviews, be specific and give examples of what employees do well. Implement an employee recognition system to spotlight effort, innovation, problem solving and results. Recognize individual and team efforts. See Y4Y’s Employee Retention Training to Go for ideas you and other program leaders can use to keep staff engaged.

For more ideas on ways to treasure your staff and help them grow, see Y4Y’s new Human Resources course. To share your own ideas and success stories, leave a comment below. 



September 16, 2019

Y4Y learned from Texas 21st CCLC program director Johanna Friedel that there are certain questions she hears from new grantees each year. If you’re the captain of a 21st CCLC program just unfurling your sails, you might have some of the same questions. Here are common questions and answers, with links to Y4Y tools that will help you navigate the waters.   

Q1: How do you recruit your staff?  

See the Identifying and Recruiting High-Quality Staff overview. You can download and customize Y4Y’s Sample Job Descriptions to post on professional sites or disseminate to organizations from which you envision hiring (such as local teacher unions or the education department at a nearby university). Y4Y also has suggestions for Getting Members on Your Program Team  

Q2: How do you structure your afterschool time?  

Consult the Effective Homework Time Training to Go to consider the role of homework time in your program. You can use the Align for Success Click & GoIntentional Activity Design Planner and Intentional Activity Design: Mapping Needs to Activities tools to start shaping your activities blueprint. 

Q3: Who’s in charge of my budget? How do I determine what percentage should be allocated to staffing, overhead, transportation, supplies, field trips, training and snacks?  

Grantees should refer to their approved grant proposal for specifics on budgeting. Consult the Sample 21st CCLC Budget Worksheet for direction on how to best allocate any funds with flexibility. 

 Q4: How and when do my staff receive training? Who’ll train my staff? What basic compliance trainings will they need at the beginning of the year? 

Use the Y4Y Training Guide and Template for guidance on training basics. This guide will be helpful whether you’re planning and conducting the training yourself, working with a partner or having staff attend training offered by a third party. As you consider basic compliance trainings, you’ll need to know the requirements of your educational partners and the institution that provides physical space for your program. Many training tools are available on the Y4Y site. Open the drop-down list under “Learn” and go to “Train Your Staff” for advanced trainings you can customize and use as your program grows and flourishes. Another way to support staff members’ ongoing professional development is to connect them with professional learning resources (see Y4Y’s Professionalization Resources page). 

Q5: What basic materials for students do I need at the start of the program year? 

The materials you’ll need will depend on the program activities you do. Leave sufficient budget for materials specific to the activities that will take shape as you intentionally design activities, including science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) projects you may offer. Consider community partnerships as a potential source of materials. Y4Y’s Sample Procurement Packet includes a supply request form, a supply and equipment tracking form, and a partner memorandum of understanding. 

Q6: Where can I find basic forms that will help me structure my program, such as enrollment forms, transportation forms, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), lesson plan forms, supervision and observation forms, student incident reports and a staff handbook? 

Y4Y offers a library of downloadable, customizable forms. The tools in Y4Y’s Managing Your 21stCCLC Program course are a good place to start. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other programs through the Y4Y discussion board. The board for the August 2019 New Leaders Academy has ideas from some veteran program leaders as well as new grantees. A template and tool for drafting MOUs is among the Y4Y Strengthening Partnerships course tools. 

Q7: What will my year-at-a-glance calendar look like?  

Y4Y’s Program Planning Timeline tool can assist you in broad-strokes program planning. To see an example of a timeline with a detailed breakdown of tasks, visit the Sample Annual Task Timeline 

Q8: What data do I have to collect for my state and the federal government? 

The Implementation Strategies section of the Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course addresses many aspects of data reporting. Your state coordinator is your best resource for learning everything that’s required of you to maintain funding.   

Q9: What are the roles and responsibilities for my executive staff, site coordinators or managers, family engagement specialist and for me as a program director? What are the responsibilities for my frontline staff and child care workers? 

It’s an excellent idea to have roles as well developed as possible as you build your program. Y4Y’s Sample Human Resources Packet provides standard role descriptions that you can customize to fit your budget and the people you hire. It can be tempting to rest more or less responsibility with employees based on their demonstrated abilities, but bear in mind that, in the event of turnover, your hiring practices need to have solid alignment with the descriptors you decide on.  

Q10: What are the responsibilities of the parents for the program? 

As you know, family engagement is a centerpiece of 21st CCLC programs. The Y4Y Family Engagement course helps program leaders consider many aspects of programs’ critical relationship with students’ families. The Sample Calendar (Family Engagement) offers a glimpse of what that might look like throughout the year. 



September 16, 2019

Creativity. Collaboration. Persistence. Questioning. Impulse control. Increased motivation. Improved academic performance. When students engage in project-based learning, these are just some of the outcomes you can expect to see.

Why does it work?

Project-based learning builds on the theory that learning is more likely to “stick” when it’s active rather than passive. Projects help students actively discover, process and apply new information rather than passively get information from textbooks, lectures or worksheets.

How does it work?

For thousands of years, educators from Confucius to Montessori and Piaget have outlined steps to help students define questions that lead to exploration, discovery and a lasting love of learning. The Y4Y Project-Based Learning course is a step-by-step guide to using this hands-on learning approach in your program. Briefly, it goes like this:

  • Check student interests to identify a topic to explore. This might be cleaning up the local river or learning how rockets work.
  • Guide students as they develop a driving question to organize the learning. Keep in mind the specific skills you want to help students master.
  • Help students create a project plan and timeline. They’ll need to decide on a product or outcome that will demonstrate their learning. Creating a product with real-world relevance motivates and rewards student efforts. They might build a model rocket, create a video to encourage community members to act against pollution, develop a how-to guide so others can replicate their work or create multiple products.
  • Facilitate the process as students work in groups to conduct research, brainstorm ideas, develop answers to their driving question and complete their projects.
  • When the final products are complete, celebrate student learning with an event that helps show off the work.

Ready to start exploring?

The Introduction section of the Y4Y Project-Based Learning course provides an overview. The Y4Y Project-Based Learning Project Planner is a handy checklist and reminder to help you facilitate this kind of learning in your program. For examples of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects completed by students in other 21st CCLC programs, see the Y4Y National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project overview page.



September 16, 2019

The start of a new program year is a good time to remind staff members, partners and volunteers of your program’s mission, goals and expectations. For starters, put your mission statement, goals and expectations in writing, and post them for everyone to see. Refer to them in meetings and discussions. Prompt others to reflect and act on the values these statements represent by asking questions like these:

  • In what ways do our planned activities align with our program’s mission and goals? Do we need to make adjustments?
  • What evidence do you see that we’re moving toward our goals? Are we getting the hoped-for results? How well are we following through on our plan? Do we need to make adjustments?
  • Are we living up to the expectations we’ve set for ourselves and our program? What about our students and their families, our partners, and our volunteers? Do we need to make adjustments?

Notice that each prompt ends with a question about whether you need to change some aspect of your approach (such as planning, implementation or behaviors). That’s important because, despite our best intentions, it’s human nature to fall back into old patterns and go with the flow.

Remind everyone that you’re all in the same program boat and aiming for the same goals. Encourage one another to fight the prevailing winds by focusing on your goals, implementing your program as planned and evaluating your progress. Invite everyone on your team to suggest changes anytime they think the “program boat” seems to be drifting off course.

When you fight the prevailing winds, you’re fighting for the success of the students and families you serve!