, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 177-190

After-School Youth Development Programs: A Developmental-Ecological Model of Current Research

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Although there has been a rapid increase in funding and attention to after-school programs, there is little understanding of how after-school programs impact children's developmental trajectories. The heterogeneity of American children makes it very unlikely that all children need after-school programming or that there is but one brand of after-school programming suitable for all youth. We discuss the numerous developmental and contextual factors that may influence which children benefit most from after-school programs as well as the nature of the after-school programs most beneficial to children's needs. The value of utilizing an ecological and developmental perspective to after-school program evaluation are presented, including the need for improved research designs and more detailed analyses of program type and services as well as a more complete determination of which children benefit the most from after-school participation.