A youth program funder posed this question: Should Minnesota funders require accreditation of out-of-school programs to ensure implementation of high quality learning opportunities? While accreditation systems to endorse after-school programs exist at the state and national levels, there is no widespread consensus for support in Minnesota.
To explore the implications of youth program accreditation, Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Extension Center for Youth Development sponsored three invitational forums with a cross-section of field leaders that resulted in an issue brief on the topic.
So why this conversation, and why now?
- First, accreditation systems exist in early childhood education, school-aged care programs and formal education to guide investments and provide a common framework for improvement. As these systems are being widely implemented in Minnesota, it would seem reasonable that funders, policy-makers and even the public might expect a similar process in the out-of-school time field.
- Second, youth program accreditation efforts and conversations are underway nationally and a proactive Minnesota-based conversation could inform how that plays out and ensure that any movement toward accreditation in Minnesota strengthens the field.
- Finally, given the public funds that support many youth programs, could accreditation help funders and policy makers better define high-quality out-of-school-time opportunities and provide additional justification for increased investments
I invite you to read the issue brief and weigh in here with your comments. What do you see as potential benefits or arguments against pursuing youth program accreditation in Minnesota?
-- Kate Walker, research associate
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