Skip to content
See all Press

New Report: What Makes a Quality After-School Program for Preteens?

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Six guiding principles for creating high quality after-school programs to serve preteens are outlined in a just-released report commissioned by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

The report was written by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), a national nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the effectiveness of social policies and programs. P/PV based its recommendations on the latest research on after-school programs and its experience with such programs, including some funded by the foundation.

Research has shown that 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are the peak hours for youth to be involved in crime, smoke, drink or do drugs. Quality after-school programs not only help keep preteens out of trouble, but also help them develop in positive ways, such as improving their health habits, decision-making skills, and relationships with adults and friends.

“Behavior patterns established during the preteen years may endure long into adulthood,” said David Alexander, MD, president and CEO of the foundation, “yet many preteens have limited access to positive opportunities — such as high-quality after-school programs — that could put them on a path to success.”

The report, “Putting It All Together: Guiding Principles for Quality After-School Programs Serving Preteens,” recommends that all after-school programs aim to implement the following:

  • Focused and Intentional Strategy – with a clear set of goals and curricula to reach the goals;
  • Exposure – a sufficient number of hours of participation to made a difference for a child;
  • Supportive Relationships – positive adult/youth relationships that provide emotional support and guidance;
  • Family Engagement – a welcoming environment for families and clear, regular communication;
  • Cultural Competence – diverse staff with whom preteens can identify, and attention to a wide range of cultures; and
  • Continuous Program Improvement – Staff training and monitoring, and collection and analysis of data to assess progress.

Many other factors, including the needs of the youth served and the resources available, also play a role in determining an after-school program’s ability to achieve its goals, but research suggests that the guiding principles in this report are essential for program quality.

The free report and companion resource guide is available at

Public/Private Ventures is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the effectiveness of social policies and programs. P/PV designs, tests and studies initiatives thatincrease supports,skills and opportunities of residents of low-income communities; works with policy makers to see that the lessons and evidence produced are reflected in policy; and provides training, technical assistance and learning opportunities to practitioners based on documented effective practices.

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health is devoted exclusively to promoting, protecting, and sustaining the health of children. The foundation raises funds for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and pediatric programs at the Stanford School of Medicine; makes grants to community partners in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; and supports public information and education programs.