Employee Churn in After-School Care: Manager Influences on Retention and Turnover


  • Michele Wilkens NAA Board of Directors




retention, turnover, after-school, gap analysis


This study examined field employee turnover at a national after-school program provider to assess the knowledge, skills, motivation, and organizational influences of those with the greatest impact on employee retention—area managers who oversee after-school programs and their ­­­frontline staff. Clark and Estes’ (2008) gap analysis served as the general conceptual framework for the study. A convergent parallel mixed methods case study was conducted using historical document analysis, surveys, interviews, and observations. Analysis revealed high employee retention (74%) as well as high turnover (62%), which can coexist when most staff are retained, but a smaller segment repeatedly churns over the same period. Specifically, recurring turnover among 37% of staff roles was found to be the source of the high turnover rate, while 63% of roles remained filled and stable. Further analysis of managers’ mindset illuminated barriers to success with retention, including limited knowledge of factors related to turnover, perception of minimal organizational focus on and resources for retention, significant external locus of control over turnover, and lack of ownership and accountability for turnover. After implementing context-specific solutions grounded in literature and in the New World Kirkpatrick Model (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2016), a 1-year follow-up indicated elevations in 16 of 17 areas of manager mindset around retention, including 90% or higher agreement in 12 of 17 areas, a 22% decrease in turnover, an 8% increase in stable roles, and an 11% decrease in unstable or repeatedly churning roles.

Author Biography

Michele Wilkens, NAA Board of Directors

Dr. Michele Wilkens is a 25-year veteran in education and psychology as a school administrator, university professor, clinical therapist, international speaker, and award-winning curriculum author and inspirational leader. She holds a Doctorate of Education from the University of Southern California, where her afterschool turnover study was nominated for Dissertation of the Year. Dr. Wilkens is currently Chief Academic Officer for Right At School, an international enrichment provider serving 30K+ students across North America, where she oversees curriculum, training, impact measurement, and educational partnerships. Dr. Wilkens additionally serves on the Board of Directors of the National AfterSchool Association.


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