Thriving OST Workforce: A Collective Commitment to Job Quality

As the professional membership association for people who work with and on behalf of youth during Out-of-School Time (OST), the National AfterSchool Association is concerned about ensuring the number of skilled professionals necessary to provide the quality OST programs that kids and families desperately need.

In partnership with its State Affiliates, NAA has been working on fostering positive youth outcomes by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders for over 30 years. Efforts include elements of a profession such as the Code of Ethics, Core Knowledge, Skills, and Competencies, and Professional Credentialing System for OST professionals.

Over time, the OST field has made great strides in research, practice, and policies which have influenced funding in support of quality afterschool programs. The research clearly shows that program staff are at the core of the program quality, leading to positive youth outcomes. Yet, the skilled and caring adults who play such an essential role in young people’s development are still not recognized, rewarded, and provided with the job quality commensurate with their contributions and impact. NAA and its members are committed to changing that.

In early 2022, NAA launched the Thriving Workforce Initiative. This strategic work, led by Angelica Portillo, NAA’s Director of Workforce and Advocacy, includes broad goals and specific objectives and strategies supporting adequate, holistic compensation. In talking about NAA’s workforce development efforts, Portillo shared, “Moving this invaluable workforce forward is necessary for upholding the field’s commitment to equity, access, and quality.”

Today, NAA is publicly and formally announcing a Proclamation on the OST Profession, a set of principles collaboratively created by field leaders at NAA’s 2022 Convention. The Proclamation on the Profession recognizes that the work of OST professionals matters and will serve as a foundational guide for the collective work necessary to drive workforce-related change.