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Child Care & After-School Programs

4-H Afterschool Program

4-H is one of the largest youth development programs in the world, with almost 7 million members. It operates through the Cooperative Extension System (CES), a partnership of county, state, and federal governments, the 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. In the early 1980s, 4-H brought these vast resources to after-school programs.

The 4-H Afterschool Program is a special effort within the 4-H Youth Development Program to raise the public awareness of the significant contributions 4-H has made in the after-school field. 4- H Afterschool increases the extension staff work in after-school programs and strengthens collaborations with other youth-serving organizations. The program also increases the quality and availability of after-school programs in America's communities. With a 4-H presence in or near all counties in the United States, every staff member and youth in after-school programs can benefit from the “learn by doing,” the hands-on learning approach used by 4-H.

The programs and resources available through 4-H Afterschool help youth achieve social, emotional, physical, and academic success while developing healthy lifestyles and behaviors. And everything available from 4-H Afterschool is easily accessible for professionals, organizations, parents, and anyone interested in this youth development program.

Extension staff in local communities and state offices, as well as collaborating organizations and agencies, can draw on the rich resources developed specifically through 4-H Afterschool funding. Thousands of CES-developed resources are available throughout the system. Extension staff can provide resources and expertise to after-school programs in areas such as:

  • “Learn by doing” curricula for programs.
  • Conducting local needs assessments.
  • Assisting with program evaluation.
  • Bringing resources to communities.
  • Building community collaborations.
  • Working with parents.
  • Starting 4-H clubs in after-school programs.

In some states, extension staffs have worked specifically with school systems to align after-school learning outcomes with state educational standards. They develop educational materials to specifically work with school superintendents and principals. A developmental and care dimension was also added as an educational focused approach.

One of extension's strengths is staff development and training. Local after-school staff can receive training from extension professionals in a wide range of areas that include topics such as youth development, hands-on learning techniques to use with youth, life skills development, discipline, health, nutrition, program management, and recruiting and training volunteers. By working with local 4-H professionals, after-school staff can design training programs that meet their individual and program needs.

Youth development workers across the country can tap into this human and technological system of expertise, curricula, and training to create or improve after-school programs for youth in their communities. 4-H Afterschool works toward a vision that all children and youth are in safe, healthy, and enriching environments when away from their parents. 4-H program staff are vitally interested in joining with others who share this vision.

4-H Afterschool is a collaborative effort of the CES—state land-grant universities, state and county governments, NIFA, and the National 4-H Council.


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