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Child Care & After-School Programs

4-H Youth Development Program of the Cooperative Extension System

NIFA is the National 4-H Headquarters for 4-H, one of the largest youth development programs in the world with almost 7 million members. 4-H operates through the Cooperative Extension System—a partnership of county, state, and federal governments and land-grant universities—and private sector partners. Since 1902, 4-H has empowered youth to reach their full potential by working and learning in partnership with caring adults. And in the early 1980s 4-H has brought these vast resources and youth development principles to after-school programs.

The 4-H Youth Development Program brings many academically trained program and research faculty and resources in youth development to the after-school arena. Also, 4-H supports the theory that all after-school programs should be built on sound youth development principles and practices.

In many states and counties, 4-H extension staff play a significant role in improving knowledge, skills, and abilities of after-school staff; improving program quality; increasing knowledge and skills of parents; and increasing community support for after-school programs.

4-H works in three broad areas to improve the quality and quantity of after-school programs:

  • Administer after-school programs.
  • Provide technical assistance to programs administered by other agencies in areas such as program planning, conducting community needs assessments, providing experientially based curricula, program evaluations, resource development, program administration, working with families, and public policy education.
  • Provide training and professional development experiences for providers, staff, and youth development professionals to secure credentials, academic degrees, and continuing education requirements.
  • Establish 4-H clubs in after-school programs administered by other organizations, and make 4-H community, county, state, and national educational programs available to youth participating in 4-H after-school programs.  


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