Session: Advancing the Efficacy of Afterschool Interventions for High-Risk Youth: Findings from the Denver Bridge Project (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

116 Advancing the Efficacy of Afterschool Interventions for High-Risk Youth: Findings from the Denver Bridge Project

Cluster: Adolescent and Youth Development
Symposium Organizer:

Jeffrey M. Jenson, PhD, University of Denver
Saturday, January 16, 2010: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Seacliff D (Hyatt Regency)
Afterschool programs for high-risk children and youth have increased considerably in the past decade. Fueled by evidence indicating that a significant amount of youth crime occurs between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (Snyder et al., 1996), afterschool programming has become a common intervention approach to promoting positive youth development and preventing problem behaviors such as delinquency, substance use, and school failure. The recent public and policy attention devoted to afterschool programs also recognizes the importance of adequate parental supervision during the hours following a young person's release from school. Inadequate supervision during this vulnerable time of day may be particularly important in low-income neighborhoods because parents in these communities often work one or more jobs that result in extended periods of unsupervised time for children and youth.

Afterschool programs typically provide academic enrichment opportunities aimed at increasing school success, preventing antisocial behavior, and promoting positive youth development (Gottfredson et al., 2004). Most programs include multiple intervention components based on the assumption that overall program participation will reduce common risk and protective factors associated with childhood and adolescent problem behaviors. Youth attending afterschool programs may, therefore, participate in such diverse services as tutoring, mentoring, psycho-education, recreation, and skills training. Implicit in many programs is the assertion that degree of program participation is positively related to healthy development. However, the effects of program participation and the influence of differential exposure to specific intervention elements on key developmental milestones, antisocial behavior, and academic achievement are poorly understood. Tests of structured aftercare programs are necessary to understand the mechanisms that lead to positive outcomes for high-risk children and youth.

Authors in this symposium describe intervention research being conducted at the Bridge Project, a theoretically-based afterschool program located in four public housing communities in Denver, Colorado. The theoretical model used to define and implement intervention program elements is described in the first paper. In two subsequent papers, authors note the effects of Bridge Project interventions on a range of academic and behavioral outcomes. The symposium aims to increase awareness of the empirical evidence supporting afterschool interventions and raise important practice, policy, and methodological issues associated with designing and testing afterschool programs in urban settings. Findings and lessons learned from investigations conducted at the Bridge Project are used to advance existing knowledge of the efficacy of afterschool programs for high-risk children and youth.

* noted as presenting author
A Theoretically-Based Afterschool Program for High-Risk Youth in Public Housing Communities
Jeffrey M. Jenson, PhD, University of Denver; Elizabeth K. Anthony, PhD, Arizona State University; Kimberly A. Bender, PhD, University of Denver
Effects of an Urban Afterschool Program on Behavior and Academic Performance among High-Risk Youth
Kimberly A. Bender, PhD, University of Denver; Daniel Brisson, PhD, University of Denver; Anne Powell, PhD, University of Kansas; Shandra Forrest-Bank, MSW, University of Denver; Elizabeth K. Anthony, PhD, Arizona State University
Building Civic Leadership Skills through a Neighborhood Afterschool Program
Nicole Nicotera, PhD, University of Denver; Dawn Matera, MSW, University of Denver
See more of: Symposia