Community-Based After-School Inclusive Programs for Low-Income Minority Youth and Their Families: the Disability Specialist Approach

Donald G. Unger, Tara Woolfolk, Vanessa Harper, Teresita Cuevas


Intervention for helping community based after-school programs become more responsive to youth with disabilities and their families is presented in this manuscript. The Disability Specialist intervention utilized a variety of approaches, including: a) increasing awareness of disabilities and services by providing learning opportunity sessions for families and staff, and outreach activities to youth through interactive theater; b) developing in house “disability specialists” to offer ongoing leadership and technical expertise for after-school programs and their community centers; c) developing a network of technical consultants in order to connect families and after-school programs to specialized community resources; d) providing financial assistance to enable community center staff to allocate time to outreach activities; and e) providing families with support in educational advocacy efforts by partnering with a local parent mentoring program. The success of the project depended upon building partnerships with families, community centers, human service agencies, schools, and local funding sources.

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