Repairing the Leaking Pipeline of OST Professional Development
November 28, 2018
Carla O’Donnell-Rizzo, director of school-based programs at Completely KIDS, and one of the 2017-19 National Afterschool Matters Fellows, writes on the Completely KIDS blog about her research on why it is so hard to hire and retain out-of-school-time (OST) professionals.
In "OST Professional Pipeline: Why is it Leaking?," O'Donnell-Rizzo observes:
Afterschool or Out of School Time programs should have the most natural staff career pipeline imaginable. When a child has an incredible experience in their afterschool program and forms a relationship with a caring adult, ideally some of those children would be inspired to go into the afterschool field themselves.
After appropriate college preparation and work experience in OST programs, these people should be promoted into director positions where they can improve their programs, contribute to the field, and encourage the next generation in turn. O'Donnell-Rizzo has observed, however, that in her own role, she has trouble hiring for both part-time and full-time positions--the pipeline is broken. She suspected she wasn't alone, and therefore developed and launched a survey to explore why OST programs have such a difficult time hiring and retaining youth development professionals. "We need more information on why the youth worker pipeline is leaking so that we can develop a strategy to fix it," she explains.
In her blog post, she shares some of her results, including a look at what is working, and offers her suggestions for next steps we can take as a field to understand and repair the pipeline of professional development. We're pleased that the National Afterschool Matters Fellowship, a partnership between NIOST and the National Writing Project (NWP), with funding from the Robert Bowne Foundation, has enabled her to undertake this important work.