Preparing Capable Youth Workers: The Project Youth Extension Service Approach

Benjamin Silliman, Harriett C. Edwards, James C. Johnson

Abstract


The Project Youth Extension Service (YES!) college student internship integrates pre-service training on youth worker competencies with a year or more of practice experience in leading positive youth development programs for military youth impacted by the military deployment process. For nearly a decade, interns have reported significant improvement in 37 behavioral competencies, with 24 indicators improving .50 or more on a 5-point scale. Areas of greatest growth include practices critical to youth worker effectiveness and program quality: self-regulation, interaction, and adaptation in high-intensity settings. Qualitative comments indicate growth in personal maturity (e.g., composure, flexibility, openness to feedback) as well as professional growth (e.g., listening, organization, presentation, teamwork), and empathy for youth and families under stress. Intern growth was also observed by trainers and mentors. Program feedback from youth and event coordinators was consistently positive. Interns also benefited from working with a career mentor. Blended online and on-site training, episodic scheduling, and scaffolded leadership offer effective and efficient methods for programming and professional development. Findings point to the value of intensive and extended training focused on experiential learning, critical reflection, and mentoring, together with background knowledge on military culture, military family life, and youth development. The program model, full results, conclusions, recommendations for practice, and opportunities for improvement are discussed.


Keywords


youth worker training; youth work competencies; internship; professional development; military youth

Full Text:

PDF

References


Akiva, T., Li, J., Martin, K. M., Horner, C. G., McNamara A. R. (2017). Simple interactions: Piloting a strengths-based and interaction-based professional development for out-of-school time programs. Child and Youth Care Forum, 46, 285-305. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10566-016-9375-9

Anderson-Nathe, B. (2008). So what? Now what? Implications for youth work practice. Child and Youth Services, 30(1-2), 123-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01459350802156771

Arnold, M. E. (2015). Connecting the dots: Improving extension program planning with program umbrella models. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 3(2), 48-67. https://www.jhseonline.com/article/view/685

Arnold, M. E., & Cater, M. (2016). Program theory and quality matter: Changing the course of Extension program evaluation. Journal of Extension, 54(1), Article 1FEA1. https://joe.org/joe/2016february/a1.php

Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 1, 25-48. https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/handle/1805/4579

Baizerman, M. (2009). Deepening understanding of managing evaluation. In D. W. Compton & M. Baizerman (Eds.), New directions for evaluation: Managing program evaluation: Towards explicating a professional practice (pp. 87–98). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bartram, D. (2012). The SHL universal competency framework. Surrey, UK: SHL Group. http://connectingcredentials.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/The-SHL-Universal-Competency-Framework.pdf

Baughman, S., Boyd, H. H., & Franz, N. K. (2012). Non-formal educator use of evaluation results. Evaluation and Program Planning, 35, 329-336. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.11.008

Borden, L. M., Craig, D. L., & Villarruel, F. A., (2004). Professionalizing youth development: The role of higher education. New Directions for Student Leadership, 104, 75-85. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.100

Bowers, E. P., Li, Y., Kiely, M. K., Brittian, A., Lerner, J. V., & Lerner, R. M. (2010). The five Cs model of positive youth development: A longitudinal analysis of confirmatory factor structure and measurement invariance. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 720-735. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-010-9530-9

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In R. M. Lerner & W. Damon (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (pp. 793-828). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Burrus, J., Jackson, T., Xi, N., & Steinberg, J. (2013). Identifying the most important 21st century workforce competencies: An analysis of the Occupational Information Network (OINET). (Research Report No. ETS RR-13-31). https://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RR-13-21.pdf

Carnegie Commission. (1992). A Matter of time: Risk and opportunity in the nonschool hours. New York: Carnegie. https://www.carnegie.org/publications/a-matter-of-time-risk-and-opportunity-in-the-nonschool-hours/

Child Care Resource Center. (2019). Basic School-age Care Online. https://childcareresourcecenter.org/event/bsac-basic-school-age-care-online/

Cuijpers, P. (2017). Four decades of outcome research on psychotherapies for adult depression: An overview of a series of meta-analyses. Canadian Psychology, 58, 7-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cap0000096

Curry, D., Eckles, F., Stuart, C., Schneider-Munoz, A. J., & Qaqish, B. (2013). National certification for child and youth workers: Does it make a difference? Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 1795-1800. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.08.005

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294-309. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9300-6

Eccles, J., & Gootman, J. A. (Eds., 2002). Community programs to promote youth development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Enfield, R. P., Schmitt-McQuitty, L., & Smith, M. H. (2007). The development and evaluation of experiential learning workshops for staff and volunteers. Journal of Extension, 45(1), 1FEA2. https://www.joe.org/joe/2007february/a2.php

Easterbrooks, M. A., Ginsburg, K., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Resilience among military youth. Future of Children, 23(2), 99–120. https://doi.org/10.1353/foc.2013.0014

Gambone, M. A., Klem, A. M., & Connell, J. P. (2002). Finding out what matters for youth: Testing key links in a community action framework for youth development. Philadelphia, PA: Youth Development Strategies. http://www.ydsi.org/YDSI/pdf/WhatMatters.pdf

Garst, B. A., Weston, K. L., Bowers, E. P., & Quinn, W. H. (2019). Fostering youth leader credibility: Professional, organizational, and community impacts associated with completion of an online master’s degree in youth development leadership. Children and Youth Services Review, 96, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.11.019

Hartje, J. A., Evans, W. P., Killian, E. S., & Brown, R. (2008). Youth worker characteristics and self-reported competency as predictors of intent to continue working with youth. Child and Youth Care Forum, 37, 27-41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10566-007-9048-9

Jonas, S. (2012). Embedding and sustaining youth worker core competencies in out-of-school time programs. In D. Fusco (Ed.), Advancing youth work: Current trends, critical questions (pp. 15-26). New York: Routledge.

Larson, R. W., Rickman, A. N., Gibbons, C. M., & Walker, K. C. (2009). Practitioner expertise: Creating quality within the daily tumble of events in youth settings. New Directions in Youth Development, 121, 71-88. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.297

Larson, R. W., & Walker, K. C. (2010). Dilemmas of practice: Challenges to program quality encountered by youth program leaders. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 338-349. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9307-z

Little, P. M. (2014). Evaluating afterschool programs. New Directions for Youth Development, 144(Winter), 119-132. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.20117

Mattingly, M., Stuart, C., & VanderVen, K. (2010). Competencies for professional child and youth work practitioners. (Revised ed.). College Station, TX: Child and Youth Care Certification Board.

Mahoney, J. L., Parente, M. E., & Zigler, E. F. (2009). Afterschool programs in America: Origins, growth, popularity, and politics. Journal of Youth Development, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2009.250

National Afterschool Association. (2011). Core knowledge and competencies for afterschool and youth development professionals. Online at https://naaweb.org/resources/core-competencies

Paul, R. P., & Elder, L. (2001). The miniature guide to critical thinking. Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Peake, K., Gaffney, S., & Surko, M. (2006). Capacity-building for youth workers through community-based partnerships. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 12(Suppl.), S65-S71. https://doi.org/10.1097/00124784-200611001-00013

Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., Scales, P., Sullivan, T. K., & Sethi, J. (2018). Finding the fluoride: Examining how and why developmental relationships are the active ingredient in interventions that work. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(5), 493-502. http://dx.doi.org.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/10.1037/ort0000333

Project YES! (2018). Monthly reports on program performance. Raleigh, NC: Project YES!

Rosenman, R., Tennekoon, V., & Hill, L. G. (2011). Measuring bias in self-reported data. International Journal of Behavioral Healthcare Research, 2(4), 320-332. http://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJBHR.2011.043414

Scales, P., Benson, P. L., Oesterle, S., Hill, K. G., Hawkins, J. D., & Travis, J. P. (2016). The dimensions of successful young adult development: A conceptual and measurement framework. Applied Developmental Science, 20(3), 150-174. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2015. 1082429

Shek, D. T, L., & Yu, L. (2016). Cognitive competence: A key positive youth development construct for university students. International Journal of Disabilities in Human Development, 15(2), 135-142. DOI 10.1515/ijdhd-2016-0702

Shockley, C. & Thompson, A. (2012). Youth workers in college: A replicable model for professional development. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 735-739. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.12.019

Smith, C., Peck, S. C., Denault, A., Blazevski, J., & Akiva, T. (2010). Quality at the point of service: Profiles of practice in after-school settings. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 358-369. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9315-z

Starr, E., Yohalem, N., & Gannett, E. (2009). Youth worker core competencies: A review of existing frameworks and purposes. Washington, DC: Next Generation Youth Work Coalition.

Stone, B., & Rennekamp, R. (2004). New foundations for the 4-H youth development profession: 4-H professional research, knowledge, and competencies study, 2004. Conducted in cooperation with the National 4-H Professional Development Task Force. National 4-H Headquarters, CSREES, USDA.

Urban, J. B. & Trochim, W. M. (2009). The role of evaluation in research-practice integration: Working toward the “golden spike.” American Journal of Evaluation, 30(4), 538-553. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214009348327

Vance, F. (2010). A comparative analysis of competency frameworks for youth workers in the out-of-school field. Child and Youth Care Forum, 39, 421-441. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9116-4

Velez, G. S. & Giner, G. R. (2015). Effects of business internships on students, employers, and higher education institutions: A systematic review. Journal of Employment Counseling, 52, 121-130. https://doi.org/10.1002/joec.12010

Walker, J. A. (2003). The essential youth worker. In F. A. Villarruel, D. F. Perkins, L. M. Borden, & J. G. Keith (Eds.), Community youth development: Programs, policies, and practices (pp. 373-393). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Walker, J. (2006). Intentional youth programs: Taking theory to practice. In D. A. Blyth & J. A. Walker (Eds.), New Directions for Youth Development (pp. 75-92). https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.194

Walker, J., & Walker, K. (2012). Establishing expertise in an emerging field. In D. Fusco (Ed.), Advancing youth work: Current trends, critical questions (pp. 39–51). New York: Routledge.

Walker, K., & Gran, C. (2010). Beyond core competencies: Practitioner expertise as a critical component of quality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/195259

Young, R. (2018). Soft skills: The primary predictor of success in academics, career, and life. https://www.pairin.com/2018/07/13/soft-skills-primary-predictor-success-academics-career-life/




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2020.824

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2020 Benjamin Silliman, Harriett C. Edwards, James C. Johnson

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.