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CADCourseYouthDevelopmentGuide.pdf

CADCourseYouthDevelopmentGuide.pdf

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 29

What is Safety?As caretakers, we generally think of safety in terms of the pre-

cautions we must take to ensure the physical safety of the

young people under our care. This includes minimizing dan-

gers within the surrounding environment, providing adequate

adult supervision, and being well prepared to address emer-

gencies, such as fires, earthquakes, and medical crises. There

are established standards addressing these safety issues and

excellent resources to guide program leaders in ensuring that

program facilities are safe and that adults working with young

people can ensure the physical safety of participants in case of

emergencies.

3C H A P T E R

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E30 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

(For guidelines and resources on physical safety, see the appendix at the end

of this chapter, as well as the Resources section at the end of this guide.)

However, promoting a sense of safety in a program serving young people

goes beyond creating a physically safe environment. A program can provide

a safe physical environment and still be experienced by young participants

as an unsafe place. For young people to experience a program as safe, they

must feel personally safe—both physically and emotionally. The experience

of physical safety means that young people feel safe from physical harm,

confident that the surrounding adults will protect them from harm and

assist them if they are feeling threatened—whether by their peers or by

other adults. Further, young people know that there are rules that govern

behavior and that these rules will be consistently and fairly enforced.

The experience of emotional safety means that young people feel secure

that they will be valued and accepted by the group; that they can participate

fully without fear of teasing, harassment, or ostracism; that racial and cultur-

al differences between individuals are embraced. Individual differences, such

as body type, or differences in ability or interests are also accepted and young

people know that they will be treated with respect. In an environment that

promotes emotional safety, young people feel safe to try and sometimes fail

because positive risk-taking is supported and “mistakes are OK.”

“In CBB they teach people

not to make fun of you if you

make a mistake, so now more

people that were shy before

and didn’t want to work with

people, they’re more used to

it, they’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I

want to work in groups, come

on let’s work in a group.”

—D.D., 12 years old,

Community Bridges Beacon,

San Francisco, CA

Young people must:

• Feel secure that adults will protect them from harm.

• Know that they are protected by a set of fair and consistently

applied rules.

• Feel secure that they will be valued and accepted by the group.

Safety means that young people feel both physically and emotionally safe.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 31

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Why is Safety Important?The research on child development and resiliency identifies the experience

of physical and emotional safety as critical to supporting young people’s

healthy development. Young people must experience a sense of personal

and emotional safety if they are to learn important life skills and competen-

cies they will need in adulthood. Karen Pittman writes,

The experience of safety is basic and critical to young people. Its absence

can have profound effects on their choices and decisions; [without a

sense of safety] they can doubt the prospect of a future at all and devel-

op the ‘learned helplessness’ often associated with victimization. When

young people do feel safe, they are less likely to participate in the high-

risk behaviors that can derail or delay healthy development i.

Programs that hold increasing or enhancing young people’s learning as an

important outcome should be particularly interested in promoting a strong

sense of safety. Recent research into brain function reveals that the experi-

ence of safety is an important component in a person’s readiness to learn.

When people feel unsafe, their brain activity actually changes.ii Higher-level

brain functions such as learning, cognition, and language ability are reduced

or shut down as attention is diverted to a “fight-or-flight” response. Thus,

feeling unsafe can actively interfere with learning and the integration of

new information.

As Tribes authors note:

It is no wonder that Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in

Mind, states that excess stress and threat in the school environment may

be the single greatest contributor to impaired academic learning. He also

considers poor student relationships as a salient stressor. We need to

provide our students with places of learning that the brain perceives as

non-threatening iii.

Because so much of the learning in after-school programs occurs in a social

environment, a sense of safety is key. If we are expecting young people to

take the positive risks needed to practice newly learned skills and take on

leadership roles and responsibilities, we must provide them with a setting

where they feel safe. Young people are more willing to take the risks neces-

sary for learning and growth when they know that their “falls” will be

cushioned by the acceptance of the group. A sense of safety is also a

prerequisite for building the kinds of positive relationships with adults and

peers that help young people learn (See Chapter 4, Encouraging

Relationship Building).

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E32 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Immediate BenefitsEstablishing your after-school program as a safe place in the eyes of your par-

ticipants brings numerous immediate benefits, both for program participants

and for the adults managing the program. When programs are designed to pro-

mote a sense of safety, young people feel more secure and trusting of others.

Promoting a sense of safety and acceptance serves to reduce “acting out”

behaviors and underlying anxiety. When staff members make it clear that every-

one is included in the emotional safety net, young people feel safe sharing

their whole selves with the group. As they interact authentically and respect-

fully with others, they learn acceptance of difference and gain the ability to

work and play with people from backgrounds different from their own.

When all the young people in your program feel safe, they are more likely to

tell adults what they are really thinking and feeling. As you gain a deeper

understanding of their opinions and wants, you can better meet young peo-

ple’s needs. A feeling of safety among participants reduces conflicts among

young people; and when conflicts do arise, they are resolved more readily.

It also enables adults to reap the rewards of authentic relationships with

young people.

“If something happens you

can tell the security people

or any adult and they will

help you.“

—5th grader, East Oakland

Youth Development Center

Oakland, CA

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 33

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

How Do You Know if YourProgram is Promoting aSense of Safety?

What You SeeYou can tell that a program has placed importance on promoting a sense of

safety among its participants when you walk into the room, even before the

participants arrive, because the environment is clearly a place where all are

included and respected:

• Program ground rules and schedules are printed in multiple languages

when appropriate, so all young people and parents can read them.

• You might also see signs created by young people that reflect the

values of the program, like “RESPECT YOURSELF; RESPECT OTHERS”

and “MISTAKES ARE OK.”

• If there are displays celebrating young people’s accomplishments,

every young person is represented at one time or another.

• The images on the walls represent the participants’ racial and eth-

nic diversity, and present diverse role models (in terms of race, cul-

ture, age, gender, sexual orientation, family structure).

• Books on the shelves and other program materials are equally rep-

resentative of the participants’ diversity.

After the adults and young people arrive, you can see that staff have worked to

promote a sense of safety in the way everyone interacts.

• As people enter it is clear that they know what to do and where to go

and they demonstrate a shared understanding of the behavioral expec-

tations.

• Young people of different backgrounds, ages, and genders , as well as

adult staff members, interact comfortably with one another.

• Adults on staff represent the diversity of the young participants, and

adult staff appear well informed about the cultural backgrounds of the

young people in the program.

• Young people and adults speak respectfully to each other even when

disagreeing.

• All young people make comments, ask questions, and share ideas with-

out the fear of ridicule or censure; there are no hurtful “put downs.”

“They [staff members]

give you a chance

to tell your story if

something happened—

If you give the first push,

they’re not gonna just

punish you for starting it.

They ask why [the fight

started] to both people.”

—J.C., 12 years old, Visitacion

Valley Beacon Center,

San Francisco, CA

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E34 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

• Each participant appears to have a positive role in the group.

• There is a consistent, predictable response when ground rules are

broken or ignored.

• Conflicts are managed with words, and young people help each

other or ask for adult help in managing conflict as necessary.

• Young people are not teased if they are unable to accomplish a

task, but instead receive peer support and encouragement.

What Young People SayYoung people can tell you if they feel safe in the program. The most reliable

way to assess for emotional safety is to ask the young people about their

own experience of the program. Would young people in your program agree

or disagree with these statements?

• I feel safe when I am here.

• If someone wanted to hurt me or beat me up here someone

would stop him/her.

• Rules about how to treat each other here are enforced.

• It’s okay for me to make mistakes here.

• There is at least one thing that I do well in this program.

• I learn things here about people who are different from me.

Reflection:What are some things you see in your program that indicate young people

experience safety when they are there? What are some things you would

like to see?

S N A P S H O T

Gateway After-SchoolEnrichmentProgramRichmond, CA

Young people who

don’t follow the

ground rules at

Gateway may face a

“jury of their peers.”

Program Director

Verna Springer says,

“We really follow our

ground rules and take

seriously our pledge

that everyone has a

right to feel safe in

this environment.” If a

young person is

violating others’ rights

and the usual

consequences aren’t

effective, that young

person may agree to

face a jury of their

peers. These young

people are taking

responsibility not just

for creating the

ground rules, but for

making them

meaningful.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 35

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Promoting a Sense of Safetyin Your After-School ProgramMaking Safety a PriorityFor young people to feel safe, they need to know that there is a set of clear

rules that govern behavior, and that these rules will be applied consistently

by adults who are committed to treating young people fairly. Make safety a

priority by making sure everyone is familiar with everyday rules, procedures,

and agreements about how staff should respond when young people break

the rules. This includes all program staff, security, administration, janitorial

staff, volunteers, and any other adults who might come in contact with

young people in the program.

Plan how you will respectfully develop and review the rules with your young

program participants and how you will secure their agreement. (The best

way is to invite them to help in creating the rules. For help doing this, see

Tribes, cited in the Resources section at the end of this guide.)

It is critical that young people in your program know where to turn if some-

one —whether a peer, staff member, or someone outside the program—is

making them feel unsafe. Staff members need to take seriously any reports

of bullying, teasing, abuse, harassment or other unsafe behavior and let the

young person who feels unsafe know what steps will be taken to ensure his

or her safety. It is important to raise this issue in group discussions from

time to time by asking, “What would you do if a bully tried to bother you on

your way here?” and “Who could you talk to if one of the staff members did

something that you thought was unfair?”

Also begin to plan ways to ensure that a wide variety of young people can

experience success in your program. One way to do this is to make sure that

your program includes a wide range of activities that draw on different skills,

knowledge bases, and abilities. It is also important to pay respectful attention

to the individual participants, learning what motivates them and better under-

standing the context in which they have formed their beliefs.

While it is essential for program leaders to plan how best to promote safety, the

policies, procedures and resources of the larger organization (whether a

school, school district, or agency) must be in concert with the work of program

staff members. There are certain structural features a program needs to have

in place if it is going to consistently provide physical and emotional safety.

Consider how to engage your organizational leaders in reviewing this chapter,

especially the section on Organizational Practices.

S N A P S H O T

Girls, Inc.Alameda County,CA

At Girls Inc. of

Alameda County,

California, girls feel

safe because they

are encouraged

to be powerful.

Staff members pay

attention to details

that send a big

message, from posters

on the walls of strong,

accomplished women

of diverse

backgrounds, to staff

members focusing

compliments on what

girls do, rather than

on how they look.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E36 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Helping Young People Resist BiasCreating emotional safety is about creating a climate that values diversity.

The goal is for every child to feel comfortable with and accepted for who he

or she is. Children are born loving, curious, and open to the world. They

start to notice differences in gender, race, class, and family structure as early

as age three, and they turn to the adults around them for clues about what

those differences mean. In the absence of positive, affirming cues from their

role models about difference, they learn what they can on the playground

and from mass culture. Sadly, many of the messages they receive are full of

subtle and not-so-subtle biases and stereotyping.

Bias is often subtle, and is communicated thoughtlessly if we are not care-

ful. It is as much about what we don’t say as what we do—tolerating loud-

ness from boys but not from girls, making assumptions about a child’s inter-

ests or skills based on his/her race, or posting images on the walls that leave

some young people out. It is important for everyone at the school or agency

to have a good understanding of bias and how it works if you are going to

work to eliminate it in your program. A good first step is anti-bias training

for all program staff.

Learning bias hurts young people, and they try to resist it—they want to

remain open, loving, and kind. Help them by modeling acceptance and by

addressing all types of slurs and stereotypes whenever they occur. Remember

also to be mindful of the young person displaying the bias, striving to respect

the context in which they developed their beliefs, while making it clear that

behavior and words that hurt others are unacceptable. In an age-appropriate

way, you can also help them learn how bias works and how to recognize it.

(See Hate Hurts, cited in the Resources section, at the end of this guide.) An

after-school program can provide a safe space by clearing the air of bias and

stereotyping, and providing a strong message of inclusion. There are some

excellent resources at the end of this guide to help you.

One of the most challenging, and frequently unacknowledged, issues that

many adults face is helping young people deal with societal homophobia

and heterosexism. The toll intolerance takes can be devastating: it is esti-

mated that gay and lesbian adolescents account for one-third of teens com-

mitting suicide îv. Homophobic environments are especially hurtful to

young people who sense that they might be “different” in some way or who

have gay or lesbian family members. You can help create a sense of safety for

all the young people in your program by using inclusive language and by rec-

ognizing and refusing to tolerate homophobic stereotypes and slurs. As one

experienced youth worker put it, “challenging heterosexism creates safety

not only for young people of these identities and others who are question-

ing their sexuality, but also for heterosexual young people being pressured

to be violent to “prove” their identities.v

S N A P S H O T

Project YieldOakland, CA

Project Yield keeps an

ongoing focus on

safety with a Safety

and Support Team

comprised of parents

and older youth who

are graduates of the

after-school program.

“We are located in an

area where there is a

lot of gang activity, and

where there are very

strong neighborhood

identities, so we made

sure these various

groups had balanced

representation on the

safety team, and we

made sure we had

accounted for turf

issues,” says Nancy

Netherland, Director

of Community

Programming. Parents

and young people are

paid for their

involvement in this

important work.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 37

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Permission to use granted by Jeanne Gibbs, author of Tribes: A New Way of

Learning and Being Together, CenterSource Systems, Sausalito, CA.

Matrix for Achieving Equity in Classrooms

What tolook for

Policy:What to do

InstructionalStrategies

Current Curriculum

Management(School &Classroom)

Family &CommunityInvolvement

Language which is dehumanizingor denies the existence offemales or males; e.g. Japs,mankind

Members of agroup portrayedin one role orwith onecharacteristic.

The lack ofrepresentation of a group

Misinformationabout a group,event orcontribution.

Singleinterpretation of an issue,situation orcondition.

Separatingcontributions of females andethnic groupsfrom themainstream

Review policy forbiased language.

Ensure non-discriminatorydiscipline policy

Recognizeteachingperformancewhich fostersequity.

Design proactivemission statementwhich correctspast bias.

Earmark moneyfor equityclassroommaterials.

Design staffevaluationsinclusive of equity criteria.

Pluralize subjectsto avoid a genderpronoun.

Encourage malesand females toexpress a widerange of feelings,responses andsensibilities.

Encouragecontributionsfrom females andethnic minorities.

Discusscontroversialtopics ofdiscriminationand prejudice.

Engage studentsin analyzing anddebating an issue.

Call on studentsequitably.

Set expectationsfor students touse non-sexistlanguage.

Select readingsthat have thefemales andethnic minoritiesin responsible,excitingleadershippositions.

Count thenumbers of male,female & ethnicgroup members todetermine theproportion inrelation to thepopulation.

Engage studentsin conductingresearch to find if theinformation isaccurate

Introducealternative waysto solve problemsand makedecisions.

Stress that eventsare the result ofcollaborativeefforts andcontributions of many.

Engage allmembers innoticing andcorrecting biasedlanguage

Intervene whenslurs or jokes aremade at another’sexpense.

Nurturecooperationamong males,females andethnically diversestudents.

Facilitate shareddecision making.

Create asupportiveclimate fordifferingperspectives to be discussed.

Establish ways of integratinggroups duringfree time.

Attend councilmeeting andhave studentspresent on useof non-biasedlanguage innewspapers, onroad signs, etc.

Invite non-traditional rolemodels to teach a lesson on their area ofspecialization.

Provide studentswith shadowingopportunities

Examine thehistory ofdiscriminationwithin local lawsand history.

Establishcommunityadvisory groupsthat arebalanced by sex,ethnicity anddisability.

Solicit volunteersfrom diversegroups to workwith students.

Linguistic bias Stereotyping Invisibility/Exclusion

Unreality Imbalance/Selectivity

Fragmentation/Isolation

Use the following matrix of the six forms of bias to assess bias in instructional strategies,

management styles, curriculum and communication in the classroom and the community.

Included are indicators of bias and strategy for reducing bias in each component.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E38 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Knowing and Involving Your CommunityEvery community has its own particular issues, history, and cultural heritage. It

is important to know what groups are represented in your program, so you can

be familiar with the history, issues, and relationships between those groups.

This is important for inclusion, so you can be sure that your young people see

familiar images on the walls, that they have some role models that come from

a similar background, and that cultural celebrations reflect the group.

Knowing your community is also important for reasons of physical safety.

For example, is your program located in gang territory? Do young people

have to cross territory of rival gangs to get to your site? Do young people in

your area sometimes carry weapons to feel safe? Are there current events in

local or national news that may have an impact on how students get along

at your program? What is the local history of relationships between different

groups represented in your program?

Parents and community members are wonderful resources for identifying

bias, providing insight into the historical and cultural background of the

community, and creating solutions to a variety of problems. Some programs

have formed parent “safety committees” that look at various safety issues

and work together to find solutions. Be sure that such working groups con-

tain a balance of the different groups represented in your program.

A Word About Confidentiality and ReferralsAs you get to know young people in the program and they develop trust

with you, many may share personal information, assuming it will be kept

confidential. Older youth in particular may feel safer knowing that you can

and will keep their conversations confidential. However, there are certain

times when you will not be able to keep confidentiality—such as when a

young person lets you know that someone is hurting them, or that they are

going to hurt someone else.

It is important that adult staff understand the legal reporting responsibilities

regarding child abuse and endangerment. If your program is addressing per-

sonal, sensitive issues with young people, it is important to have a clear pol-

icy on confidentiality that you can share openly with participants. It is par-

ticularly important with adolescents that they understand you will respect

their privacy, and that there are limits in regards to ensuring their safety. (For

more on confidentiality, see Helping Teens Stop Violence, listed in the

Resources section at the end of this guide.)

There will be times when a young participant’s issues are beyond the scope of

your program practice. It is important that staff members receive guidance on

how to handle these situations and have access to their program supervisors

to discuss situations where referrals to other professionals may be in order.

S N A P S H O T

CommunityBridges BeaconSan Francisco, CA

The Community Bridges

Beacon, a school-based

youth and community

center, suggests the fol-

lowing training series for

all Safety and Support

teams.

Prior to opening or within

the first three months,

a one-day training

including:

1. Youth development

philosophy

2. Child and adolescent

development

3. Safe school model

4. Team building

Within the first six months

to one year:

1. Conflict mediation

and resolution

2. Physical intervention

3. Dealing with hostile

situations and

personal safety

4. Anger diffusion

techniques

5. Crisis response training

6. Incident and injury

procedures and

reporting

Annual trainings for

all staff:

1. CPR/Standard First Aid

2. Child Protective

Services reporting

process and

confidentiality

3. Diversity awareness/

Sensitivity

4. Sensitivity training

for ageism

5. Sexual harassment

6. Gang recognition

7. Weapons recognition

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 39

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Organizational Practices thatSupport SafetyPromoting a sense of safety begins with sound policies and practices of the

organization that employs the staff who work with young people directly.

These organizational practices require the commitment of everyone at the

agency or school, from the administration to the janitorial staff to the volun-

teers. The following are organizational practices that are most directly related

to safety.

Low Youth to Staff/Volunteer RatioA low youth to staff/volunteer ratio is necessary for both physical and emo-

tional safety. Activities and spaces need to be adequately supervised and pro-

gram leaders need to have an adult close so they can be available for situa-

tions that require one-to-one interactions. It is also important to have

enough trained adults around to address issues of emotional safety when

they arise and to form the kinds of trusting relationships that allow young

people to feel truly safe.

Safe, Reliable, and Accessible Activities and SpacesSafe, reliable, and accessible activities and spaces are crucial for young peo-

ple to have a sense of safety. Are program spaces clean? Does the layout of

the space and furniture allow adult staff to keep children in view? Are there

places within the programming space for adult staff and young people to

have one-to-one discussions? Has your organization worked to ensure that

young people are safe when getting both to and from the program?

Continuity and Consistency of CareYoung people feel safest when they have ongoing, trusting relationships

with the adults in their program and when there is a sense of routine.

Continuity and consistency of care are crucial. Organizations must take

steps to minimize staff turnover. Make sure there is a back-up plan when key

staff members are absent. When staff members or volunteers leave the pro-

gram, do all you can to make careful, smooth transitions, including giving

young people a chance to say good-bye, when possible.

Ongoing, Results-Based Staff and OrganizationalImprovement ProcessBoth physical and emotional safety are complex topics that require a great

deal of attention and planning. An ongoing, results-based staff and organiza-

tional improvement process is one way to be sure that safety issues don’t fall

through the cracks. It is also important to have a process for improvement

that takes young people’s input into account. Does your organization have a

“In one program, where

many participants reported

feeling unsafe, the issue

turned out to be all about

attitudes and understanding

of difference. Discussions

with young people and

observations revealed that

participants felt unsafe

because they were

unfamiliar with the culture

of the other young people in

the program. Once staff

recognized that this was at

the heart of young people’s

feelings of insecurity, they

could take the necessary

steps to address it, such as

implementing an anti-bias

training for staff and holding

anti-bias workshops for

young people.”

—Stacey Daraio,

Community Network

for Youth Development

San Francisco, CA

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E40 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

process to assess the degree to which participants feel physically and emo-

tionally safe in the program?

Community EngagementYour community has a great stake in the safety of its young people, and a

great deal of expertise and energy to help build a safe environment. As dis-

cussed throughout this chapter, strong community engagement is vital in cre-

ating a program that is inclusive of all young people and helps them feel safe.

Providing Opportunities For Safety At All Levels Of TheOrganizationSafety is most effective and meaningful when it is modeled at all levels of

the school or agency. This means that all staff members, parents, and vol-

unteers have the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe in the

program. Adults who don’t feel safe will have a hard time helping young

people feel safe. This means addressing everything from physical safety on

the grounds to making sure there is a way for program staff members to

freely share their thoughts and concerns about the program, agency, or

school. Fortunately, much of the learning that goes into making a safe pro-

gram for young people will also make it safer for everyone.

Reflection:Are there other ways your organization could support staff members in pro-

moting a sense of safety in your program?

S N A P S H O T

GatewayAfter-SchoolEnrichmentProgramRichmond, CA

At Gateway, staff

members pay

attention to

establishing safety for

parents as well

as students. “We

understand that many

of the parents did not

have a positive

experience in the

school system,” says

Program Director

Verna Springer. “To

address this, we use

take-home activities

to engage the

parents and ask them

to fill out feedback

forms on the

activities. We make

positive phone calls

home, to tell them

when their child has

done well. Then

when we invite them

in, they come eagerly.

We have lots of

celebrations like

family day picnics.

They are so

appreciative and

thankful to have the

chance to be a part of

things and experience

what their child is

experiencing.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 41

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Five Things You Can DoNOW to Increase Safety

1. Develop group agreements or rules regarding safety and regu-lar group meetings to ensure that everyone feels physicallyand emotionally safe.Conduct a meeting with the program participants early on to express

the commitment that in your program “every person has the right to

feel safe, included, and accepted.” Ask participants to define what

these terms mean to them, and what agreements and rules they want

to make to ensure the right of safety. Decide together what happens

when the safety agreements are broken. Train young people in a

process to resolve differences and decide at what point an adult

should be asked to intervene.

2. Institute a regular group or “community” check-in meeting.If issues of safety and relationship building are important, set aside a

regular time for the group to reflect on their experience in the pro-

gram and to suggest ways in which the peer group can work together

even better. “Every year in the first week of school, I gather my stu-

dents in our book corner, which is a cozy spot covered with a nice

thick rug. We sit in a circle so that we can see each other’s faces, and I

tell the children that every week we will meet as a group to discuss

how well we are getting along, what is working and what’s not work-

ing, and how to solve our problems” writes Mona Halaby, author of

Belonging: Creating Community in the Classroom. Make room in the

meeting for people to share appreciations for their peers who are con-

tributing to making the program a positive, safe place. The Tribes book

(Jeanne Gibbs) and Tribes trainings are also excellent resources for

how to conduct community-building meetings with young people.

3. Include “no put-downs” in your group rules. When developing group agreements or rules with young people, a

request for a “no put- down” rule will usually surface early in the discus-

sion. It is important to discuss with the young people how everyone will

support its enforcement. This takes real commitment, as many young

people have learned to use “put-downs” as a defense against being hurt

themselves. Adult staff members will have to follow through with great

consistency, offering reminders that ask members to hold to this agreement,

especially in the beginning. Take every slur you hear seriously, even if it is in a

teasing tone or participants claim it is okay. It is not okay because slurs hurt.

It is helpful to hold group discussions or activities around “put-downs”,

“When agencies ask young

people about their experiences

in programs, they discover

invaluable new information

which would otherwise

remain invisible to adults.

For example, one agency

surveyed their participants

and was surprised to learn

that many of them did not

feel safe at the program.

Further discussion revealed

that participants felt unsafe

because, unknown to adult

staff, young people had

recently brought weapons

onto the site. Without asking

young people about their

experiences, staff would not

have been able to address

this key issue.”

—Stacey Daraio,

Community Network

for Youth Development

San Francisco, CA

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E42 3

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why they hurt, and what we can do instead. As young people come to trust

that you will enforce this policy, you will see a reduction in the number of

“put-downs”, and the sense of safety in the program will grow. Learning

the benefits of interacting without this kind of hurtful behavior at an early

age teaches young people a profound lesson in the value of tolerance and

mutual respect.

4. Assess the cultural, gender, ethnic, and family structure background of your group.Without asking unnecessarily probing questions, do what you can to

learn who is in your program. Do the staff members and volunteers

reflect these backgrounds? Do images and books in the classroom?

Program activities and celebrations? Are there differences in who comes

to program, who participates in which activities, which parents feel wel-

come at events?

5. Expand the group’s knowledge of particular groups and cultures.Start by educating yourself. Avoid tokenizing young people or others

in your program or school by asking them to explain their culture.

Instead, go to the library, look on the internet, attend local cultural

events, and call or visit organizations promoting equity for the group

you are researching. Learn what you can about the history, art, litera-

ture, music, food, celebrations, and struggles of a culture or group.

Then help the young people in your program study different cultures

and celebrate the contributions of different groups. You might learn

about women, people of color, and gay people who have contributed

to your neighborhood. Celebrate various holidays as they are celebrat-

ed in different countries. Celebrate Black History Month, Women’s

History Month, Gay Pride Month, or Cesar Chavez’s Birthday. Young

people can present what they’ve learned, and adults may be willing to

share food, decorations, or music. Don’t make assumptions about

what any particular person might share. Be sure that these celebra-

tions are part of an ongoing process of inclusion and education, and

that some groups aren’t just segregated to certain “diversity days.”

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 43

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

Notes

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E44 3

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

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Sharing With Others: Presentation Materials and ExercisesThe following are some tools for sharing with your staff or oth-

ers at your agency or school to get everyone thinking about safe-

ty. You might want to start by reading the section at the begin-

ning of this chapter together and/or handing out some of the

case studies highlighted in the chapter. The following Personal

Reflection Exercise is a good way to spark discussion. If there is

a local youth serving agency with particularly strong expertise in

promoting a sense of safety among their young participants, you

may want to invite someone from that agency in as a guest speak-

er to offer inspiration and share experience.

3C H A P T E R

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 45

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.E X E R C I S E :

Personal Reflection: SafetyThis exercise is intended to help people in your program identify the factors that make an environment

feel emotionally safe. It is a good opening to focus the group on the importance of safety.

Begin by telling participants that you are going to do a personal reflection. Ask them to close their eyes,

and spend a few minutes thinking about their own experience. Then read the following:

Imagine a time when you were with a group of people and you felt that you didn’t fit in.

• Where were you? Who were you with? Were you familiar with the habits and style of the group?

Did you share interests and values?

• How did you feel in that situation?

• Where was your attention focused?

• How did you respond?

Now think of a time when you were with a group of people with whom you felt completely at

home—where you could let your hair down and be truly yourself.

• Where were you? Who were you with? Were you familiar with the habits and style of the group?

Did you share interests and values?

• How did you feel in that situation?

• Where was your attention focused?

• How did you respond?

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 47

Personal Reflection: Safety continued

Group Discussion: Before holding a group discussion you might want to give the participants an opportunity to write down

some highlights of what they learned in the Personal Reflection Exercise. Then hold a discussion using the

following questions to facilitate sharing and learning from each participant’s experience.

• What were some differences in your relationships with the two groups?

• How did you think differently in the group you were comfortable with vs. the one where you

were uncomfortable? How did you act differently?

• In what ways did you feel safe or unsafe in the two groups?

• What are the qualities of an emotionally safe environment?

• How could a young person’s feelings of being safe or unsafe affect their ability to learn?

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 49

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

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PERCENT IN PROGRAM

Inclusion Chart

Use this chart to examine inclusion and representation in your program. Record the percentages of every

group represented at various levels of the program. You can add groups as needed to fit the demographics of

your community. You can also use a modified version to look at representation in program materials and

images on the walls. This is a tool for beginning a discussion and identifying areas for action—you can mod-

ify it and use it in the way that makes the most sense for your program.

VOLUNTEERSCONTRACTSTAFF

MANAGEMENTPARENTSPROGRAMASST.

PROGRAMLEADERS

YOUNG PEOPLE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN

ASIAN/ PACIFIC

ISLANDER

LATINO/A

NATIVE AMERICAN

MIDDLE-EASTERN

MULTI-RACIAL

WHITE

MALE

FEMALE

LESBIAN/ GAY/

BISEXUAL/

TRANSGENDERED

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 51

E X E R C I S E :

Conflict InterventionThis exercise will help staff members think ahead about how they might intervene in a conflict or

interrupt bias.

Divide into teams of five or six. Each team has five minutes to plan a role play in which they are young peo-

ple from the program involved in a situation that requires staff intervention. The situations can be argu-

ments, fights, teasing, slurs, or any similar situation that might occur among your program’s young people.

Do each role play, one at a time, with the staff member played by someone from outside the small group.

After each role play, hold a large group discussion to consider these questions:

• What did the staff member do that was helpful in the situation?

• How did the staff member feel before the intervention? During? After?

• How did the “young people” feel before the intervention? During? After?

• What else could the staff member have done to help each of the “young people” feel safer

in the program?

• Was this situation realistic for your program?

• Is further staff training or discussion necessary?

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 53

P R O M O T I N G S A F E T Y

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Further Staff Training Topics for Safety

• Resisting bias

• Specific workshops on racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, and other topics as needed

• Active listening

• Conflict mediation and de-escalation

• First Aid

• Earthquake preparedness

• Child abuse reporting requirements

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 3 55

Safety: Checklist for ActionThis checklist will help you stay focused and organized as you begin making safety a priority in

your program.

Have you:■■ Assessed your program’s organizational practices to see if they promote safety?

■■ Looked at how your school or agency allocates resources (time, space, and money) to promote a

sense of safety for participants?

■■ Assessed the need for staff development and planned for training?

■■ Defined specifically how you expect safety-promoting activities to positively impact young people?

■■ Set aside ongoing staff time to thoroughly prepare for and implement inclusion strategies?

■■ Assessed the cultural and family backgrounds represented in your program?

■■ Educated staff about different groups represented in your program?

■■ Educated all program staff about bias?

■■ Educated volunteers about bias?

■■ Instituted a “no put-down” rule?

■■ Taken time to have young people really explain what they are thinking when they break

program rules?

■■ Assessed program materials for inclusion?

■■ Involved parents and community members in planning to promote and ensure safety?

■■ Incorporated outcomes related to promoting safety into program evaluation?

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E28 s2

A F T E R – S C H O O L P R O G R A M S

• Encouraging Relationship Building in Your after-schoolProgram. Here we offer concrete strategies for promoting the practice in your program.

• Organizational Practices That Support Relationship Building.This section offers an overview of the resources and practices at the

organizational level, which must be in place in order for program

leaders to work effectively with young people in their programs.

• Five Things You Can Do Now to Encourage RelationshipBuilding. This is a list of five program ideas that you can implementright away to begin prioritizing the particular practice.

• Sharing With Others: Presentation Materials and Exercises.These are sample materials and exercises for promoting discussion

about each key youth development practice.

We have also included a Resources Section, which lists other training and

technical assistance resources for program leaders and others. Resources

on each of the five key practices are included, as well as more general

sources of information on youth development.

As noted earlier, the youth development approach is not meant to be pre-

scriptive—it does not dictate a specific program design. On the contrary, the

practices described in this section can be incorporated into all after-school

programs, regardless of their structure or program content. Effectively

implementing these practices in your after-school program will foster learn-

ing, stimulate young people’s engagement in the program, and help your

program have the maximum positive impact on young people’s lives.

4Encouraging

Relationship Building

Fostering caring

and supportive

relationships

in your program.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 4 57

What is Relationship Building?Relationship building is the development of caring, supportive

relationships between adults and young people, and among

young people and their peers. We know relationship building is

happening and young people feel supported when they report

that they feel “known” and accepted by others in the program,

when they experience the program as a place where they

receive emotional and practical encouragement and support,

and when they can turn to adults for personal guidance and

assistance. What does relationship building look like in an effec-

tive after-school program? Staff members spend time with

young people, getting to know them and developing trust.

C H A P T E R

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E58 4

R E L A T I O N S H I P B U I L D I N G

Adults respect young people and treat them with courtesy and care. Young

people learn to treat each other with respect as well, and develop a group

identity that includes all members. Staff members know that building posi-

tive, trusting relationships with young people is not a separate part of the

work, but rather an integral part of every activity and interaction. (See How

Do You Know if Your Program is Encouraging Relationship Building?.)

“I like it that there are

people here who care about

you and listen.”

—L.V., age 10, Sunset

Neighborhood Beacon

Center, San Francisco, CA

• Experience emotional and practical support from adults

and peers.

• Experience guidance from adults.

• Build knowledge of adults and peers.

Relationship building means that young people:

Why is Relationship Building Important?There is overwhelming evidence that the presence of caring, supportive rela-

tionships between young people and adults is one of the most critical factors

in the healthy development of young people. In research on childhood

resiliency, the presence of these relationships is the leading indicator that

young people will be healthy and productive adults, regardless of their eco-

nomic circumstances and other risk factors. By providing opportunities for

relationship building, we ensure that our after-school programs are contribut-

ing to the important developmental needs of the young people we serve. It is

important to note that relationship building is also a critical factor in whether

or not young people experience a sense of physical and emotional safety in

their after-school program, as discussed in Chapter 3, Promoting A Sense of

Safety.

Can after-school programs really make a difference? When adults are asked to

reflect on the experiences that were most influential in their childhood and

adolescence, they almost always cite an important relationship with a caring

adult who took the time to know them, and offered guidance and encourage-

ment. This person was often an individual outside of the home and classroom:

a coach or youth worker who took a special interest, a teacher who took time

after-school. (See the “Cookie Lady” exercise in the section Sharing with

Others: Presentation Materials and Exercises).

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 4 59

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Immediate BenefitsThe first challenge in running successful after-school programs is attracting

and retaining participants. This is especially challenging with adolescents

who can “vote with their feet” if they do not have a positive experience in

the program. When young people feel respected and have caring relation-

ships with adults and peers in an after-school program, they feel more

included and invested in the program. As they develop a sense of group

membership, they are more likely to attend regularly and participate more

fully in the program.

When young people are engaged in deciding how they want to be treated, they

have the chance to reflect on their own behavior and how it impacts others.

They become more aware of the needs and feelings of others, and more

accepting of difference. Working together to build relationships in a structured

environment also gives young people the chance to learn and practice their

communication skills.

Most importantly, creating opportunities for relationship building ensures that

young people will have somewhere to turn when they need help or are faced

with difficult decisions. Relationship building is cited as a critical factor in the

effectiveness of prevention programs designed to reduce high-risk behaviors.

Supportive relationships with both adults and peers are sources of emotional

support, guidance and instrumental help that can contribute to better deci-

sion-making, lower levels of stress, higher academic achievement, healthier

relationships and lower levels of drug and alcohol use.i

Many after-school programs offer extended learning opportunities for young

people with the hope of improving academic skills, which can lead to

improved school performance. The experience of emotional safety and sup-

portive relationships are major factors in creating successful learning environ-

ments. Recent research on learning reveals that most learning happens in a

social context. These experiences serve as turnkeys in young peoples’ willing-

ness to take positive risks, such as accepting help and feedback from others

and openly risking failure in order to learn new skills.

As the experience of mutual respect and trust increases between program lead-

ers and young participants, discipline problems diminish. It becomes easier to

get young people to voice their ideas and opinions, and easier to facilitate

group activities. Program assessment becomes more meaningful as young peo-

ple are empowered to respond honestly. In addition, when staff members have

the time and organizational support necessary to develop relationships with

young people, their job satisfaction increases.

“I’ve learned a lot

about myself and how to

interact with people

and how to improve this.

I’ve learned a lot about

communicating.”

—L.M., 14 years old, Lavender

Youth Recreation and

Information Center,

San Francisco, CA

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E60 4

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How Do You Know if YourProgram is EncouragingRelationship Building?What You SeeYou can tell that a program encourages relationship building when you walk

into the program room and see:

• Ground rules or guideline posters citing how young people want

to be treated and will treat others are prominently displayed.

These displays are clearly hand made by the program participants

and sometimes in different languages.

• Pictures on the walls celebrating program participants, their cul-

tures, and the group’s accomplishments within the program.

• A schedule of the week’s activities including structured time for

one-to-one contact between adults and young people, for group

discussions, and open time for young people to socialize with one

another and have informal contact with adult staff.

After the adults and young people arrive, you can see that your program

encourages relationship building by the way they engage with each other:

• Young people and adults are treating others respectfully.

• Adults squat down when interacting with small children, to speak

to them at their eye level.

• Young people are reminding each other of the ground rules.

• Conflicts are resolved with words, not raised voices or fists. If

needed, adults are asked to assist with the situation.

• Young people are able to work together in groups and across differ-

ences of age, gender, ethnic background, ability, and social status.

• Young people approach adults to discuss problems they may have.

• There is a time in the day to reflect on the group’s accomplish-

ments and interactions.

• Adults are available before and after the program, for informal

conversation with participants.

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E 4 61

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What Young People SayThe most reliable way to judge if your program is encouraging relationship

building is to ask the young people about their own experiences of the pro-

gram. If asked, would young people in your program agree or disagree with

these statements?

• People here say something nice to me when I do something good.

• There are rules here for how people are supposed to treat each

other.

• Rules about how to treat each other are enforced by adults and

participants.

• I get chances here to learn about young people who are different

from me.

• I feel respected by staff here.

• I feel respected by other kids here.

• People here pay attention to what is going on in my life.

• There is someone here I could talk to if I was upset or mad about

something.

• Someone here would say something to me if something in my life

weren’t going right.

• There is someone here who I could go to for help in a crisis, or if

I needed to talk about personal problems.

Reflection:What are some things you see in your program that encourage relationship

building? What things would you like to see?

S N A P S H O T

Project YieldOakland, CA

At Project Yield

program staff members

are paid to spend up to

eight hours per week

helping young people

with problems outside

the program, getting to

know them in their

neighborhood, or just

hanging out and

chatting with young

people. Staff members

are also evaluated partly

on the basis of the

strengths of the

relationships they build

with young people. One

way the program

gathers information on

relationship building is

by asking young people,

through surveys, to

identify staff members

with whom they’ve

established a significant

relationship. This, along

with other indicators of

relationship building, is

factored into staff

evaluations.

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C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E62 4

R E L A T I O N S H I P B U I L D I N G

Encouraging RelationshipBuilding in Your After-School ProgramMaking Relationship Building a PriorityMany individual educators and youth workers know intuitively that building

strong, positive relationships is one of the most important things they do.

But, is there value placed on this at the program and organizational level?

Are program leaders and staff aware of its importance in supporting young

people’s learning and greater development? Is relationship building an

explicit program objective? Is it reflected in the design, implementation or

evaluation of the after-school program?

Allocate time in a program staff meeting to consider these questions. If staff

members agree that relationship building is important, consider how the

program’s structure and practices currently support it. For example, does

the daily schedule of activities allow for opportunities for relationships to

develop? Is there time for participants and adults to get to know one anoth-

er? Is there time for small group discussions and for young people to have

one-to-one contact with adults? How can you assess your success in achiev-

ing this important objective and how are staff evaluated on their contribu-

tions to encouraging relationship building? (For more information see the

section Organizational Practices that Support Relationship Building.)

Establishing Group AgreementsAs noted in Chapter 3, Promoting a Sense of Safety, creating group ground

rules or guidelines for how people in the program will treat one another is

an important first step in encouraging relationship building in an after-

school program. Brainstorm ground rules as a group, and be sure everyone

in the group feels that the rules are fair. Try to be specific, and discuss what

various rules mean. For example, “respect each other” is often offered as a

ground rule, but what does “respect” mean to the young people in your pro-

gram? Does it mean no “put-downs”? Something else?

Ask young people to consider whose job it is to remind group members

when ground rules are broken, and how to do this in a genuine and respect-

ful way. If appropriate, young people can suggest possible consequences.

This process gets them thinking about how they want to treat each other,

lets them know ahead of time what the expectations are, and gives them

ownership over program guidelines.

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Once ground rules are established, post them prominently and refer to them

often. Having young people themselves make a ground rules poster will get

them more involved. It is crucial that all adults in the program enforce

ground rules consistently. (See Tribes TLC®, cited in the Resources section at

the end of this guide for more information on setting ground rules.)

Getting to Know Each Other as IndividualsIf the only way for young people to get individual attention is for them to act

out, they will do it! Try to give them opportunities to interact with adults

one-on-one in positive ways. Find out what they like to do, who the impor-

tant people in their lives are, and what they dream for the future. Group

members also need time to get to know one another—allow some unstruc-

tured time for social interaction.

Being GenuineYoung people respond very positively to honesty and sincerity. Younger chil-

dren are excited when they have a glimpse of the real person behind the

adult leader role. Young people want to get to know you, and love hearing

about your childhood experiences once in a while. Let them know a little bit

about your likes and dislikes, funny habits, or hopes for the future. For ado-

lescents, when adults are honest and sincere, it communicates that adults

value and respect them. Allow time for real relationships to develop—don’t

try for instant connections.

Offering Praise Everyone appreciates praise. Try to say five words of praise for every word of

correction. Don’t just save your praise for big accomplishments, but notice all

the steps along the way, saying things like “Keesha, you’re working so hard on

that painting!” and “Look, the Red Team got all their equipment on so quickly.

Now we’re ready to play!” When you praise, make sure your words are true and

you are praising a real accomplishment (although it may be a small one). For

young children, praise is also an alternative way to refocus negative behavior

without scolding and singling out individuals: instead of “Sit down Robert!” try

“Almost everyone is sitting quietly in the circle. Soon we can begin.”

Understanding the Pace of Group Relationship BuildingTrusting relationships between individuals and within groups take time to

develop. This can be supported through the use of activities designed to

strengthen relationship building. When deciding on group building activities,

make sure that personal revelations and group activities are low risk. Especially

with adolescents, it is important to let trust develop before you ask them to do

anything that may make them feel “silly” or vulnerable. Tribes TLC ® has

described a process of group evolution that takes place in three stages:

Inclusion, Influence, and Community (for more information, see the

Resources section at the end of this guide).

S N A P S H O T

East OaklandYouthDevelopmentCenterOakland, CA

At the end of every

African dance class prac-

tice at East Oakland

Youth Development

Center, the instructor

holds a closing circle.

Her voice booms across

the gym, “Okay, let’s

close out.” The young

people know exactly

what to do. The young

girls practicing on the

periphery of the dance

class, the drummers, the

young people observing

from the bleachers, and

the dancers join in a

large circle holding

hands. Everyone is invit-

ed. She reminds them

that they are “always in

the company” and then

continues with a series

of “appreciations” of

the young people and

others to whom they

should be thankful.

They drop hands,

turn from the circle,

and disperse to collect

their belongings and

head home.

C N Y D Y O U T H D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E64 4

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Tribes TLC® has described a process of group evolution that takes

place in three stages: Inclusion, Influence, and Community.

Permission to use granted by Jeanne Gibbs, author of Tribes: A New Way of

Learning and Being Together, CenterSource Systems, Sausalito, CA.

Including Rituals for Recognition and ReflectionYoung people respond positively to knowing there will be an early opportunity to

“voice” their arrival and presence, especially as they make the transition from one

peer setting to another, from the school day to an after-school setting. This means

that individuals do not have to find negative ways to be acknowledged.

Beginning the program with small group circles for “check-in” is a great way to

give young people opportunities for voice, recognition and reflection. Just by

taking a few minutes to let young people talk about their day or how they are

feeling, you can create a calm transition into the day, get a feel for the group,

and give each person a chance to feel important and included. Many groups

also like to have a check-out at the end of the day to say good-bye and take an

opportunity to reflect on how the group worked together that day. Once these

rituals are established, carrying them out can be turned over to the young peo-

ple. (For more information see Tribes TLC®, listed in the Resources section at

the end of this guide).

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Knowing Your LimitsIt is respectful to set appropriate boundaries with young people to let them

know what you can and can’t do as a staff member of your school or agency.

It is also important to recognize when a young person comes to you with a

problem that requires professional help. Staff members need to be prepared

with a list of resources so they will know what to do when a young person

is facing a crisis. This way, when young people reach out for help, they will

be met with support and encouragement, rather than being pushed away by

an adult who is frightened or unsure.

Organizational Practices thatSupport Relationship BuildingWhen adult program leaders commit to encouraging relationship building,

they quickly become aware of organizational structures or practices that are

necessary to support their work and the practices or structures that are cur-

rently working against their efforts. Below are some organizational practices

that have been identified as important to supporting effective youth devel-

opment practices and that relate directly to relationship building.

Low Youth to Staff/Volunteer RatioIt is crucial to have enough adults in the room to encourage relationship

building. How many is enough depends on your young people and your

program, but there is a limit to how many relationships one staff member

can sustain while facilitating program activities and ensuring respectful

behavior among program participants. Plan ahead for situations where a

young person needs immediate one-on-one attention.

Safe, Reliable, and Accessible Activities and SpacesAfter-school programs are often relegated to unused and uncared-for spaces

that are poorly outfitted and inappropriate for working with young people.

Opportunities for relationship building can be greatly affected by the nature

of a program’s physical space. What is the nature of your space? Is it depend-

able and reliable each day? Does it communicate respect for program par-

ticipants and program staff? Is there a comfortable place for program partic-

ipants to participate in meetings? Is it quiet enough, free enough from inter-

ruptions and distractions, for young people to express themselves, feel

heard and listened to? Does the space allow for small groups of young peo-

ple to work on projects, and for adults and young people to talk quietly one-

to-one if needed?

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Continuity and Consistency of CareYoung people, especially adolescents, need to trust that staff members will

be there for them before they can allow relationships to develop. On a day-

to-day basis it is important to have a backup plan and sufficient staff to keep

the program open in case of illness or other staff absence. The turnover

among adult staff can be deeply felt by young people who invest themselves

in relationships with adult program leaders. Organizational leaders and pro-

gram staff should consider how to implement practices and policies that

support the recruitment and retention of qualified staff and volunteers.

High, Clear, and Fair StandardsYoung people need to know what is expected in terms of their behavior

toward themselves and others. When adults hold high expectations in terms

of young people’s behavior and abilities, the young people feel respected

and valued. Standards for young people’s behavior should be clearly and

regularly communicated along with clear, consistent consequences for vio-

lations. Standards are more likely to be perceived as fair if young people

have input in creating them, if they are evenly applied to all young people

and staff, and if there are grievance procedures for young people who feel

unfairly treated.

Clear and fair also means that the adults in and around the programs know

and support the program standards and expectations. In an after-school pro-

gram, adults in and around the program include classroom teachers, admin-

istrators, and janitors who do not participate in the program directly, but

who have contact with program participants in the building. Supporting

program expectations means holding young people accountable for their

behavior and doing it in a way that models the value of respecting others. It

is also important to note that expectations around how adults treat young

people are sometimes different in an after-school program than during the

school day.

Ongoing, Results-based Staff and OrganizationalImprovement ProcessRelationship building requires detailed attention to individual and interper-

sonal dynamics. Staff members need to have time to communicate with each

other and with supervisors about what is going on with various young peo-

ple. Staff members also need training in a range of skills to effectively build

relationships. These skills include communication, positive discipline, facil-

itation, conflict resolution, and active listening. It is also important to have

a process for organizational improvement that takes young people’s input

into account.

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Providing Opportunities for Relationship Building at allLevels of the OrganizationEfforts to encourage relationship building are most effective and meaningful

when they are modeled at all levels of the agency or school. This means that all

staff members, parents, and volunteers have opportunities to get to know each

other, to receive emotional and practical support, and to receive guidance from

more experienced people when necessary. Working with young people in an

after-school program, like parenting, is emotionally draining, and program lead-

ers and volunteers need support from their peers. Staff members who feel iso-

lated in a program or agency will quickly burn out and leave. Many organizations

provide opportunities for staff to build supportive relationships through staff

and organization-wide social events, regular staff meetings, and group and indi-

vidual check-ins. Other ways to support staff in building relationships include

holding regular supportive supervision meetings, structuring work so that it is

done in teams, and sending staff members to outside trainings where they can

connect with their professional colleagues.

Reflection:Are there other ways your organization could support staff members in

encouraging relationship building?

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Five Things You Can Do NOWto Encourage RelationshipBuilding1. Make sure that each young person has one adult who knows

him or her well.An ongoing part of encouraging relationship building is making sure that

everyone is connected in some way. Young people need to have a posi-

tive relationship with an adult if they are to get the most out of the pro-

gram. At a staff meeting, go over your attendance list. Is there someone

on staff or a volunteer who is connected with each young person? If

there are some program participants who have “slipped through the

cracks,” decide who will make a special effort to get to know these young

people. It’s a good goal to be sure that each young person has one-to-

one time each week with an adult.

2. Institute a check-in circle.A check-in circle doesn’t need to take very long and can greatly benefit

both young people and program staff. In small groups (20 or fewer),

begin the day by sitting quietly in a circle and letting each person speak

briefly. Sometimes it helps to have a special item to pass around the

group like a talking stick that identifies the one who has the “rapt

attention” of the group. When you first start instituting the check-in cir-

cle, it helps to plan a safe and interesting check-in question, such as,

“What is your favorite thing to do at recess?” or “If you could go any-

where in the world for one day, where would you go?” Later on, after

some practice, you might have each person share one thing about their

day or say how the group is working together. (See Tribes TLC®, which

is cited in the Resources section at the end of this guide.)

3. Develop ground rules with young people.Have the group brainstorm a list of ground rules for how you will treat

each other in the program. Ask them to explain why each rule might be

important. Narrow the list down no more than seven items, so that the

rules can be easily remembered. (One way to do this is to give each per-

son three stickers. Ask them to vote by placing their stickers next to the

rules they think are most important.) Ask the group if they all feel they

can agree to try to live by these ground rules. Promise that you will help

them remember and let them know that they can remind each other as

well. (See Conflict Resolution in the Resources section at the end of this

guide.)

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.4. Hold a conflict resolution training for young people.

When young people have the skills to resolve conflict in healthy and

respectful ways, they are kinder and happier, and require less adult

intervention. They also feel safer in the after-school program knowing

that they can solve problems together and that they can get help if they

need it. You can also train “conflict managers” to help peers or younger

children resolve conflict. (See the guide’ s Resources section).

5. Participate in a Tribes TLC® training or another training ingroup process and collaborative learning.Building high quality, positive relationships in your program takes

careful planning and attention. Supporting relationships requires a

number of skills. Professional trainers who have studied this process,

such as those working at Tribes TLC®, can help staff members hone

these skills. If not this particular training, be sure your program’s

ongoing commitment to organizational improvement includes some

type of training in group process.

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NB

Payment Prоcess

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