The Network for Youth Success believes that clear quality standards and ongoing program assessment are central to building effective and sustainable afterschool programs. Improving afterschool program quality must begin with a commitment on the part of practitioners to examine their programs with a critical eye. A quality program is one that is reflective, willing to improve, change and grow, and believes in successful outcomes for its participants. Moreover, practitioners must understand that improving program quality is an ongoing process. Self-assessment provides an important opportunity for programs to identify strengths and weaknesses free from the pressures of external monitoring and evaluation. It is upon these concepts that the Quality Self-Assessment (QSA) Tool is based. The Network is working in a number of ways to encourage the adoption of common quality standards statewide.
The QSA Tool is meant to be used in concert with other formal and informal evaluation methods, such as youth, parent and staff meetings, youth and parent focus groups, and external monitoring and evaluation. Each of these methods can help identify program strengths and areas in need of improvement.