Staffing and Professional Development

A quality program recruits, hires, and trains diverse staff members who value each participant, understand developmental needs, and form positive working relationships with youth, parents, co-workers, and other partners. A quality program employs staff who are properly equipped with the academic and experiential knowledge needed to fulfill their job requirements. Program leaders have ongoing staff recruitment and development plans to attract and retain high-quality staff. Staff should always have required credentials and licenses and meet mandatory staff-to-youth ratios. Quality programs reach beyond mandatory training requirements to provide staff with additional tools and knowledge. Professional development opportunities are frequent and offer a variety of ways for practitioners to bolster their skills, and ultimately, lead to improved program performance.

Indicators & Performance Levels

(Click on the indicator to expand the performance level examples, or download the full set of indicators and performance levels here.)

A quality program:

Performance Levels
Rate your program in each of the indicators using the following system:

1 Must Address and Improve / Standards Not Met
2 Some Progress Made / Approaching Standard
3 Satisfactory / Meets Standards
4 Excellent / Exceeds Standards

Organizations are expected to strive for a satisfactory performance level (3) on all of the quality indicators.

Over time, programs should continue to strive for an excellent performance level (4).

1. Has a program director that is committed to his/her own professional development and attends and participates in training.

Performance Level 1
The program director never attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training. The director does not value professional development and does not feel that these types of events are necessary for others to attend. Therefore, the director is not able to bring information from trainings to his/her staff. The director rarely allows staff members to attend professional development events.

Performance Level 2
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training occasionally, based on when and where they occur. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, but often has other tasks to do that are prioritized over attending these events. The program director often does not have time to bring information from trainings to his/her staff.

Performance Level 3
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training regularly, based on his/her professional development needs. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, and conveys their importance by making time to attend them despite having other tasks to do. The program director brings information from trainings to his/her staff when appropriate.

Performance Level 4
The program director attends conferences, workshops, or other types of training regularly, based on his/her professional development needs or the needs of the program’s staff. The program director knows there is value in attending professional development events, and conveys their importance by making time to attend them despite having other tasks to do and allowing staff members to do the same. The program director always brings information from trainings to his/her staff immediately after the event.

2. Recruits, hires and develops staff who reflect the diversity and culture(s) of the community.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are recruited and hired without consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are recruited and hired from the community and surrounding areas. Therefore, they tend to reflect the diversity and cultures of the community.

Performance Level 3
Staff members are recruited and hired with consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community; recruitment efforts target local professionals. The site director develops a staff representing a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, etc. Several staff members can speak the native languages spoken by non-English speaking participants.

Performance Level 4
Staff members are recruited and hired with careful consideration of the diversity and cultures of the community; recruitment efforts target professionals from local schools and organizations, as well as parents, high school students, and volunteers from the community. The site director develops a staff representing a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, etc. Several staff members can speak the native languages spoken by non-English speaking participants.

3. Treats staff as professionals and provides opportunities for advancement.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are not treated like professionals; they are expected to follow the site director’s instructions regarding program activities and operations. Staff members are not encouraged to seek education and training related to their jobs. There is no opportunity for career progression and staff members leave the program to find higher-level jobs.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are occasionally asked for input regarding program activities and operations. Staff members are encouraged to seek education and training related to their jobs, but none is provided for them. There is little opportunity for career progression. Some staff members are promoted into a limited number of leadership positions as they become available, but most leave the program to find higher-level jobs.

Performance Level 3
Staff members are consistently asked for input regarding program activities and operations. Staff members are encouraged to seek education and training related to their jobs, and the site director promotes learning by holding trainings for staff and distributing information about other education opportunities. There is opportunity for career progression. Successful staff members are groomed to be group leaders and directors, and know there is opportunity to be promoted into leadership positions as they become available. Staff members who are ready for higher-level work are supported by the site director as they transition into a new position.

Performance Level 4
Staff members are consistently asked for input regarding program activities and operations based on their area of expertise. Staff members are encouraged to seek education and training related to their jobs, and the site director promotes learning by holding trainings for staff, distributing information about other education opportunities, and assisting to secure grants and scholarships to expand access to professional development. There is opportunity for career progression. Successful staff members are groomed to be group leaders and directors, and are promoted into leadership positions as they become available. The program has several levels within each job title (i.e. apprentice, assistant, associate, etc.), allowing staff members to receive more frequent promotions. Staff members who are ready for higher-level work are supported by the site director as they transition into a new position.

4. Ensures staff has competence in core academic areas, where appropriate.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are never asked to supply information on their academic experience. The site director does not know which staff members have competencies in core academic areas.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are asked to tell the site director about their academic experience when they are hired. The site director tries to assign staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge of core academic areas.

Performance Level 3
Unless seeking specialist positions such as teaching artist or sports coach, staff members must be able to display knowledge of core academic areas during the application and interview process. The site director then assigns staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge and experience. During staff observations and evaluations, the site director looks for staff members’ competency and ability to use their knowledge of core academic areas to support participants’ learning.

Performance Level 4
All staff members must be able to display knowledge of core academic areas during the application and interview process. The site director then assigns staff members to tasks and activities based on their knowledge and experience. During staff observations and evaluations, the site director looks for staff members’ competency and ability to use their knowledge of core academic areas to support youth participants learning. The site director regularly follows up with staff members to seek updated information on the academic areas in which they are strong. The site director also holds trainings on core academic areas for all staff members.

5. Provides ongoing staff development in order to engage and retain staff.

Performance Level 1
Staff development opportunities are offered infrequently. Staff members do not feel that they are learning and advancing as professionals. Therefore, the program experiences a high staff turnover rate.

Performance Level 2
Staff development opportunities are offered throughout the year on an irregular schedule. The site director selects training and workshop topics. Staff members sometimes feel they are learning new information, but often do not feel they are advancing as professionals.

Performance Level 3
Staff development opportunities are offered regularly throughout the year. The site director selects training and workshop topics with input from individual staff members. Staff members feel they are learning new information and are advancing as professionals. The site director works one-on-one with staff members to create individual staff development plans.

Performance Level 4
Staff development opportunities are offered regularly throughout the year. The site director and staff members meet to select training and workshop topics together. Trainings and workshops are sequenced and build upon one another, which encourages staff members to continue participating. Staff members feel they are learning new information and are advancing as professionals. The site director creates a staff-wide development plan that addresses the needs of the entire staff as well as the needs of individual staff members.

6. Maintains staff-to-participant ratio as per state regulations when applicable.

Performance Level 1
The program does not maintain the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. There are not enough staff members per participant, therefore making it difficult for staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program.

Performance Level 2
The program tries to maintain the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. When staff members resign or are let go, there is often a period of time in which the ratio is not maintained. There are not always enough staff members per participant, therefore it is sometimes difficult for staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program.

Performance Level 3
The program always maintains the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations. The site director ensures that there are always enough staff members per participant, even after a staff member resigns or is let go. There are enough staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program at all times.

Performance Level 4
The program always meets the staff-to-participant ratio as mandated by state regulations and generally maintains a lower ratio, allowing each staff member to focus on a small number of youth. The site director ensures that this lower ratio is maintained by having several substitutes ready to fill in if staff members are absent, or if a staff member resigns or is let go. There are always enough staff members to keep youth safe and engaged in the program at all times.

7. Provides positive working conditions for staff and appropriate supervision, support, and feedback.

Performance Level 1
Program staff members do not participate in staff meetings or trainings. The organization does not have clear expectations for staff performance. Staff members are often reprimanded and are not acknowledged for accomplishments and contributions. An employee handbook and job descriptions are unavailable.

Performance Level 2
Staff meetings happen on an ad hoc basis. There is little awareness of expectations. Issues of concern are discussed, but there is no follow through or planned solutions. Written job descriptions exist but are not shared with staff members.

Performance Level 3
Staff meetings occur regularly. Staff members are engaged when discussing issues and brainstorming solutions about the program. Trainings on basic requirements and youth-related topics are offered. Staff members are familiar with the standards that supervisors hold them to. Program leadership is accessible and follow-up happens often.

Performance Level 4
Staff meetings are scheduled in advance and happen on a regular basis. The site director coaches staff members regularly; he/she meets with each staff member to discuss performance and to set individual professional development goals. There is a clear professional development plan; staff members attend trainings regularly and have opportunities to share strategies learned. Staff members seek out trainings that build skills beyond regulatory requirements and basic topics. Supervisory staff members, including the site director, participate in management training to develop skills to support other staff members’ work.

8. Assesses professional development needs of staff and provides appropriate training.

Performance Level 1
The site director does not assess the professional development needs of staff. Staff input is not used to determine what is provided. The financial and time costs of holding trainings are often cited as a barrier.

Performance Level 2
The site director informally asks staff members about their professional development needs. Some trainings are held as a result of these conversations. Trainings are held infrequently and irregularly. The financial and time costs of holding trainings are often cited as a barrier. The site director occasionally coaches staff members who need assistance.

Performance Level 3
The site director systematically asks every staff member about his or her professional development needs. Regular trainings are held as a result of these conversations. To reduce cost barriers, the site director seeks grants for training and works with staff members to identify time in their schedules that can be used for training. The site director regularly coaches staff members who need assistance.

Performance Level 4
The site director speaks to each staff member one-on-one, and uses a professional development planning tool to collect information and assess staff needs. Regular trainings are held as a result of these conversations; trainings are sequenced and build upon one another. Professional development is recognized and valued. The site director works with staff members to identify time in their schedules that can be used for training. The program looks for funding to support training and the program’s cost model includes funds to pay staff to attend trainings. The site director and other program leaders regularly coaches staff members who need assistance. The program has a peer learning initiative, which gives staff members the opportunity to learn from one another’s expertise and experience.

9. Has program director and staff who comply with state training regulations where applicable.

Performance Level 1
The program director is unaware of the state training regulations that apply to the program. He/she does not have information about the mandated training hours required for school-age programs.

Performance Level 2
The program director is aware of the state training regulations that apply to the program, but leaves fulfilling them up to individual staff members. The program director does not track trainings attended by staff members. Each staff member has different levels and types of training, and not all staff members fulfill requirements.
Performance Level 3

The program director is aware of the state training regulations that apply to the program, and ensures individual staff members have information about them. The program director tracks the trainings attended by staff members. Several trainings are held for the entire staff, and some are pursued by staff members based on their interests.

Performance Level 4
The program director is aware of the state training regulations that apply to the program, and ensures individual staff members have information about them. The program director tracks the trainings attended by staff members. All required trainings are held for the entire staff or otherwise paid for from the program’s budget. Additional trainings are run based on staff-wide professional development needs identified by through a needs assessment.

10. Develops and supports staff to plan suitable activities that correspond to the developmental needs of participants.

Performance Level 1
Staff members are expected to plan suitable activities for participants, but do not receive training in this area. The site director does not monitor activity plans, and does not know if activities correspond to the developmental needs of participants. No professional development plan is offered for staff.

Performance Level 2
Staff members are expected to plan suitable activities for participants, and have access to printed information about youth developmental stages. The site director occasionally monitors activity plans, and sometimes talks to staff members if their activities do not correspond to the developmental needs of participants. Limited training on youth development is offered.

Performance Level 3
Staff members are expected to plan suitable activities for participants, and receive printed information about youth developmental stages during staff orientation. Trainings on youth development and activity planning are held throughout the year. The site director always monitors activity plans, and works with staff members who need assistance with running activities that correspond to the developmental needs of participants.

Performance Level 4
Staff members are expected to plan suitable activities for participants, and receive printed information about youth developmental stages during staff orientation. Staff members participate in a series of sequenced trainings prior to the start of the program year. The series of trainings cover youth developmental stages, age appropriate activities, academic learning standards, afterschool curricula use, and lesson planning. The site director always monitors activity plans, and works with staff members who need assistance with running activities that correspond to the developmental needs of participants.

11. Has regular staff meetings.

Performance Level 1
The program does not have regular staff meetings. Staff members must raise concerns or ask questions on an ad hoc basis.

Performance Level 2
The program has staff meetings when an issue arises. Staff meetings are led by the site director and all staff members are invited to participate.

Performance Level 3
The program has staff meetings on a regular basis. Staff meetings are led by the site director and all staff members are required to participate. Staff members receive advance notice of meetings to ensure their ability to participate.

Performance Level 4
The program has staff meetings on a regular basis. Staff meetings are led by the site director and all staff are required to participate. Staff members are asked to contribute to meeting agendas and are encouraged to share their successes and challenges at meetings for discussion. Staff members receive advance notice of meetings to ensure their ability to participate.

12. Works with staff to achieve credentialing and accreditation where available.

Performance Level 1
No program support is available for staff members who wish to earn a professional credential. The site director is not aware of accreditation opportunities. No information is shared with staff about credentialing or accreditation.

Performance Level 2
Limited program support is available for staff members who wish to earn a professional credential. The site director tells staff members about the afterschool credential and directs them to more information on how to obtain it. The site director is aware of accreditation opportunities but does not pursue them or discuss them with staff members.

Performance Level 3
The site director encourages staff members to earn a professional credential when applicable, and staff members are directed to information about the afterschool credential. The site director is aware of accreditation opportunities, and discusses them with staff members and other stakeholders to decide if or when it is appropriate to pursue them.

Performance Level 4
The site director encourages staff members to earn the professional credential when applicable. Staff members are directed to information about the afterschool credential. Staff trainings are aligned with the professional credential to assist staff members who are pursuing it. The site director is aware of accreditation opportunities, and discusses them with staff members and other stakeholders to decide when it is appropriate to pursue them. The program works toward accreditation under the site director’s leadership.

13. Where appropriate, develops and supports staff to provide educational opportunities for and to work with adult learners.

Performance Level 1
The program does not develop or support staff to provide educational opportunities for or to work with adult learners (e.g. participants’ parents, community leaders, etc.).

Performance Level 2
The program requires staff to occasionally provide educational opportunities for adult learners including family members and/or community leaders. However, the staff only receives support for working with adult learners on an ad hoc basis, dependent on when events and activities for adults are taking place. Some staff members may not receive support for working with adult learners, though they are sometimes asked to work with adults anyway.

Performance Level 3
The program requires staff to occasionally provide educational opportunities for adult learners including family members and/or community leaders. The staff receives support for working with adult learners during staff orientation. Only those staff members who receive training during orientation are asked to lead events and activities for adults.

Performance Level 4
The program requires staff to occasionally provide educational opportunities for adult learners including family members and/or community leaders. The staff receives support for working with adult learners during staff orientation, and regularly revisits the topic during professional development opportunities throughout the year. Therefore, all staff members are exposed to adult learning theory concepts and promising practices in working with adults.

14. Fosters understanding and appreciation for established program quality standards, evaluation, and program improvement strategies among staff.

Performance Level 1
The program does not use a distinct set of quality standards, evaluation frameworks, and/or program improvement strategies. Therefore, staff members, families, and youth do not have a clear understanding of the program’s philosophy on quality.

Performance Level 2
The program uses an established set of quality standards, evaluation frameworks, and/or program improvement strategies. Staff members are mostly aware of the program’s philosophy on quality, but it is not communicated well to families and youth. Families and youth are unclear of what they can expect from the program and how well it is achieving its goals.

Performance Level 3
The program uses an established set of quality standards, evaluation frameworks, and program improvement strategies based on research and evidence-based models. All staff members are aware of and believe in the program’s philosophy on quality, and it is regularly communicated to families and youth. Families and youth have a clear understanding of what they can expect from the program and how well it is achieving its goals.

Performance Level 4
The program uses an established set of quality standards, evaluation frameworks, and program improvement strategies based on research, evidence-based models, and what has historically been successful in the program and community. All staff members are aware of and believe in the program’s philosophy on quality, and families and youth have regular opportunities to learn about it and offer input on what quality means should look like. Families and youth have a clear understanding of what they can expect from the program and how well it is achieving its goals. Program leaders frequently reference quality standards and promising practices when making decisions about the program.



Taking Action, Suggested Stakeholders, Try This!, and Tips for Success

RIGHT NOW: ADDRESSED WITHIN THE FIRST 30-60 DAYS OF ASSESSMENT.
Meetings are scheduled with individual staff members and the site director makes program observations to identify needs, gaps, and common themes. As a follow-up, the site director meets with the staff as a team to share findings and to schedule the first group training, which is designed to build skills and establish a common vision and sense of community.

THIS YEAR: ADDRESSED BY THE END OF THE PROGRAM YEAR.
Staff and the director work closely to develop a clear staff development plan. In-house and external training resources are identified to support the plan. Trainings are attended by staff throughout the program year. The site director meets with each staff member every three months to check in on what is working and what needs to be in place to support their professional development. Job descriptions are made available and are always accessible.

NEXT YEAR: ADDRESSED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW PROGRAM YEAR.
Program year kicks off with a staff retreat to revisit goals and to identify areas of priority for the current program year. New and returning staff attend an orientation with the goals of building community, sharing expectations, agreeing on a training plan and quality standards, and establishing a shared vision. The director creates opportunities for staff members to showcase their work. Frequent observationsare performed. Accomplishments are acknowledged with announcements and awards.

The following stakeholder groups may be appropriate to involve in surveys and focus group discussions around this element:

  • Program Administrators
  • Program Staff
  • School Teachers
  • School Guidance Counselors
  • School Principals
  • Staff of Partner Programs
  • Other

“Each One, Teach One”

To maximize investment in staff participation at professional conferences, workshops, networking events, and other forums that highlight best practice in the field, ask staff to bring back information and resources gathered at these events. Give them time to share what they have learned with their colleagues one-on-one and during regular staff meetings. This will save both time and money, and everyone will benefit from events attended by any staff member.

Here are some strategies for maximizing staff professional development opportunities:

  • For trainings that are required by regulation or by program leadership, ensure staff are informed of the purpose and content of the training prior to it happening and how it links to program improvement goals.
  • Have at least two staff members participate in most professional development opportunities, including supervisors when possible. This increases institutional knowledge and ability to share learnings with others in the program.
  • Create a system to track the time and content of staff members’ professional development.
  • Create an annual professional development plan for each staff member and ensure resources for professional development are set aside in the program budget.

Research, Tools and Templates, and Resources