Training Staff to Create Caring Communities: Promises and Challenges


  • Laurie P. Browne California State University, Chico
  • Jim Sibthorp University of Utah



Caring communities support the healthy growth of young people by fostering caring youth-staff relationships as well as a sense of connectedness to the people and norms within that setting. Out-of-school-time (OST) programs may be uniquely situated to serve as caring communities, particularly if staff are trained to facilitate caring activities and employ an ethic of care when interacting with youth. These processes can also be described as program design and staff implementation. Program design, which refers to the structured aspects of a program, differs from implementation, or the ways staff interacts with youth throughout the program, because design factors are typically robust to differences in individual staff members’ style. Implementation, on the other hand, varies with respect to the individual staff member. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a two-part staff training intervention focusing on program design and staff implementation on youths’ sense of caring community. Findings from this study and their implications for managers of OST programs are discussed.






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