The Professionalization of Afterschool: A Conversation with Ellen Gannett

June 5, 2016

NIOST Director Ellen Gannett spoke with Youth Today about the professionalization of the after-school field and what it will take to unify its fragmented sectors.

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She advised, "We need to embrace common competencies, common research and practices to elevate the field overall. We need to create a career path for those who choose to stay in the field. The definition of the job needs to be changed so it crosses over settings and ages and stages. You can’t make a profession around work that is limited to a time of day.... We need to think about multiple pathways so that people can stay in the work."

Gannett remains "extremely optimistic" about the field, however, observing, "I think that we have many of the pieces of the puzzle that are necessary to create a continuous quality improvement system for the field of youth development. We have a set of core competencies and knowledge, a research base, and quality program standards. They’ve been embraced and adopted by numerous states and cities and youth-serving organizations."

To move forward, she said, "We need to get more organizations to adopt this common body of knowledge. Then we need to create incentives or requirements for doing it."

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    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

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Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA
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