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1. Policy Title

The policy essay by Capald Deborah (2009) is titled Youth after-school programs: Time to involve parents and community.  The policy roots for parental monitoring and involvement given that programs that promote parental involvement and knowledge should be considered.  Capald roots for after-school programs to include fewer youth to make sure that they do not aggregate at-risk youth, and add a component of parental knowledge and monitoring. The author also proposes involvement of proxy parental figure to foster regular interaction in the programs. The author suggest that the utilization of alternative programs such as school-based extracurricular activities and job corps. For ASPS to be successful in minimizing deviant influences among the youth: the interventions should be highly structured and guided by well trained adult readers.

2. Agency’s responsibility in carrying out the policy

A fresh policy ought to be put into effect which demands determination of organizations or agencies responsible for carrying it out. The policy paper adopts partnership and multiagency arrangement as a critical component of a comprehensive strategy that guarantee parental engagement in after-schools programs. Capald Deborah (2009) proposes that ASPs that incorporate youth within the community and avail them with valuable experience should be pursued. The author makes an observation that most programs spotlight the youth but fails to include parents. This is problematic given that parents are likely sources of help and protection for their children in trouble. Programs such as Teen Outreach Program, which connects regular community volunteer work with classroom-based discussion on life skills and life options, have been proved to be successful in safeguarding against problem behaviors. Volunteer service avails the youth with the opportunity to broaden their education in the community experience.   Indeed, Teen Outreach group appears as most effective when employed in cases of students at the highest risk for the targeted problem behaviors.

3. A Focus on Existence of the Policy

After-school programs (ASPs) that avail supervision and activities for children within the intervening period between the end of school and their parents return from daily activities have been around for quite some time. These programs bear an intuitive appeal across the U.S. and considered as an absolute necessity given that close to 33% of children aged 12-14 years with working parents are usually left in self-care. The policy paper seeks to advocate from deeper involvement of parents in after-school programs. It is evident that is highly likely to gain positive impacts with an ASP compared with no program, and it is almost inevitable to avoid negative impacts of ASP participation on the problem behaviors (Capald, 2009).

ASPs should incorporate parents to equip them with higher levels of knowledge of the adolescents’ behavior outside home. Parents should regularly receive information regarding their child’s placement and progress and should occasionally be awarded the opportunity to “shadow” their teen during the placement. Parental involvement in ASPs is likely to foster placement for program youth within their workplace. ASPs manifest negative effects such as the absence of structures and clustering of at-risk youth should be phased out (Capald, 2009).

4. The Objective of the policy

The policy satisfies an objective that can be easily incorporated into the present ASPs.  The policy makes connections between and established communication among key groups: after school staff, community members, and parents, which, in essence, lays the foundation for enhancing student achievements and reinforcing program offerings.  The involvement of families/parents and communities in after-school programs translates to working together in support of student achievement.  This is alive to the notion of the parent being the child’s first teacher given that as children progresses through life, parents are frequently the common denominator guiding children through every leg of that journey.  As such, the author is right in suggesting incorporation of parental monitoring in after-school programs given that ASPs should bolster parent engagement.  Parents have been proven to be valuable assets in fostering student access, especially during middle school at a time in which children are predisposed to the risk of disengaging.  There is minimal dispute centering on the benefits that parent engagement heralds to the success of after-schools program (Jeynes, 2012).  

The most critical individuals playing the role of protectors within the lives of adolescents are their parents, in the event that they successfully perform this role. The basis of parental monitoring can be regarded as parental awareness on all aspects that affect the child’s life and development, which encompasses activities in and outside home progress made at school, health-connected behaviors, friendships and other relationships.  As such, parents should track al the indicators that manifest in normal development, monitor relationship with peers, observe signals of possible problems and modify their parenting behaviors accordingly (Jeynes, 2012).  Studies in this area highlight that ASPs that are aggregated high-risk youth yielded to enhanced rates of deviant behavior, disciplinary actions for participants, and suspensions compared to control group youth. The program yielded to increases in parents’ perceptions of safety for their children and an enhanced parental employment.

5. Policy Evaluation steps

There are four typical steps involved in the public policy process, namely: highlighting the problem (in this case failure of most ASPs to include parents); formulating a policy (in this case parent engagement in after-school programs); implementing the policy change, and evaluating the efficacy of the program. Identifying the problem involves highlighting issues that exist, as well as studying the problem together with its cause in detail. This stage incorporates establishing awareness of the public on the issue as well as determining how to fix the problem.  The author accomplishes this by reviewing several studies on ASPs:

According to a study conducted by Gottfredson et. al. (2007), in which 35 ASPs were reviewed for effectiveness in safeguarding against delinquency and victimization among both middle-and-high school students, students averaging around 12 years attending bigger programs with lowly structured programmes manifested more delinquency and/or victimization. The study also unearthed that more highly educated staff and enhanced proportion of male staff were connected to reductions in the outlined outcomes. The study undertaken by Cross et al. (2009) represents a well designed and conducted multisite, randomized, controlled trial of after school programs, which highlights whether ASP services within the community alter the routine activities of youth after school. The findings from the study highlights that the ASP was linked to a small decrease in time in unsupervised socializing by youth, which did not yield to a reduction in the youth’s problem behaviors. Moreover, Cross et al. (2009) unearthed that the youth engaged in numerous diverse organized activities and that the incorporation of ASP did not deliver a significant impact on the quantity of activities in which the subjects engaged. 

Effective programs and interventions are essentially informed by needs analysis and are targeted to certain quarters (parents), such as disadvantaged parents. Available evidence confirms the significance of parental need analysis, accompanied by an understanding of what parents do with their children, as well as how they are most probable to respond to engage them within their children’s. Parental support that encompasses programmes that highlight academic outcomes, and training in parenting skill are most successful compared to interventions that fail to incorporate such training. In all cases, parents require well structured, detailed guidance on programmes. Nevertheless, the policy paper by Capaldi (2009) fails to avail a detailed guidance centering on programmes and their anticipated contribution.  Several evidence gaps can be highlighted in the proposed policy paper advocating the engagement of parents in after-school programs.

The essay does not provide robust evidence on the numerous academic and learning-related outcomes that are connected to the pursuit of effective parental engagement strategy (Jeynes, 2012).  As a result, the presented evidence does not adequately allow reliable and fine grained assessment to be conducted on the relative effectiveness of interventions at diverse stages of the children’s development.   The key features to a successful parental engagement strategy entail: planning whereby the engagement must be planned for and embedded within the after-school policy. The planning cycle encompasses a comprehensive need analysis, and perpetual monitoring and evaluation of interventions.

6. Evaluation of the Policy

Since the outlined essay is a policy paper, the policy is yet to be evaluated and hence one cannot determine the results of the evaluation.  The policy paper fails to highlight the challenges that may manifest in the implementation of the after-school program that embraces parental engagement. Some of the challenges encompass parents perceiving the schools as detailing obstacles in the form of absence of encouragement, or parents bearing minimal scope to fit around busy working ad family lives. Parents may also encounter a number of barriers to engagement inclusive of time, costs, and transportation, as well as the absence of confidence in supporting their children’s learning.  A quality program heralds a strong partnership incorporating families and communities so as to attain the objectives of the program (Mears, 2010). Evaluating the efficacy of the after-school program can be regarded as an intricate issue, which is an intricate as evaluating schools themselves.  Researchers and policymakers should work at establishing and refining tools within which program administrators can establish objectives and assess outcomes for after-schools programs. The issue exposed by the program manifests a number of facets and the field of after-school programs can be considered as constantly changing.

First, the evaluation should start with concise goals.  As indicated above, concise goals and continuous self-evaluation is a critical part of any after-school program. In the event that the goals of the program are not concisely defined right at the outset, it will be almost impossible to appraise what progress has been attained, or whether the instituted program satisfies the outlined needs.  With this information, one can: enhance the quality of care and the learning activities that the program provides; derive more support and funding; and, establish strategic plans for the future of the program. Since every program is diverse, there cannot be a single template for evaluation that closely suits the other.  Based on the focus of the program, one would be looking at diverse variables and numbers in establishing the success or efficacy of the program. For instance, programs fashioned as safe havens for older children will pursue to spotlight statistics that monitor safety in terms of victimization, drug use, or crime committed in the after-school hour.

The evaluation process should also highlight the entire ecology of the program. Previously, most evaluations on after-school programs spotlighted numbers such as improvement of test score or drop in crime rates, victimization, or drug use. Although, these are imperative measures, it becomes difficult to measure other critical parts of an effective program such as the establishment of relationships between youth and adults, as well as facilitating the moral and ethical development of children.   While every program must institute its distinct set of evaluation criteria, all the programs should incorporate the wider range of desired outcomes. The affective elements should be set within the foreground as one sets the objectives, structure the program, and eventually appraise its success. All evaluations on the program should integrate multiple measures of success. Feedback derived from the community forms a critical tool in assessing the program’s efficacy. Feedback may be derived via surveys and meetings with the participants, which will aid to determine the program’s strength and the areas in which change is needed.

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