Abstract: Evaluation of the Wings after-School Social and Emotional Learning Program for at-Risk Urban Children (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

167 Evaluation of the Wings after-School Social and Emotional Learning Program for at-Risk Urban Children

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Pacific M (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Chelsea AK Duran, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
David W Grissmer, PhD, Research Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Laura L Brock, PhD, Associate Department Chair, Associate Professor, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
Introduction: Promoting social and emotional competence may protect against the myriad risks faced by young children from low-income families. To this end, many in-school and/or parent- and teacher-training programs targeting social and emotional learning (SEL) have been implemented and evaluated (e.g., Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Less is known about the efficacy of SEL programs implemented in the after-school hours (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010), a time-frame with great “risk and opportunity” for children (Hofferth, 1995).

WINGS for Kids© is a structured, after-school, SEL program operating within low-performing schools serving high-risk neighborhoods in the southeastern United States. Operating three hours per day, five days per week throughout the school year, WINGS has a high-dosage model.

Methods: The present randomized control trial studied evaluated the efficacy of WINGS by following three cohorts of children (n = 354) from the start of kindergarten through the end of first grade. Data collection on children’s outcomes included teacher- and parent-reports and direct child assessments. The WINGS theory of change predicted that WINGS would improve SEL skills (immediate outcomes) and, in turn, improve relationships and behaviors in-school and at-home (intermediate outcomes) and improve academic outcomes (distal outcomes).

Results: Intent-to-treat analyses detected few significant impacts of WINGS across the three-cohort sample, likely due to severely low program compliance in the third cohort. In the first two cohorts, there were positive, significant effects on self-awareness (β = .30, p < .05) and positive, but only marginally significant, effects on three of the four other SEL skills targeted (β = .23-.26, p < .10). There were also desirable, significant effects on multiple teacher-reported and child-assessed self-regulatory and language-related outcomes (β = .26-.35, p < .05) and marginally significant effects for teacher-child relationships. No clear pattern of impacts was observed for parent-reported outcomes.

Conclusions: Research-designed, after-school programs targeting social and emotional competence can have moderate effects on SEL skills and school-related outcomes. Even in this high-dosage program, compliance to treatment was limited by high levels of instability and stress among participating families and turbulence in the school district. That no effects were observed on parent-reported measures may suggest children’s newly learned skills and behaviors were more easily transferred to the classroom environment than to home.