Abstract: Democratization of Cross-Sector Data Systems: Youth Participation, Equity and Effective out of School Time Programming (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

661 Democratization of Cross-Sector Data Systems: Youth Participation, Equity and Effective out of School Time Programming

Friday, May 31, 2019
Bayview A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Angela Malorni, MPA, Doctoral Student, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Tiffany M. Jones, PhD MSW MFT, Post Doctoral Researcher, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Charles Lea III, PhD MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Introduction: Well implemented out-of-school-time (OST) programs can facilitate a range of learning, health and positive youth development outcomes. However, there is often a mismatch of what programs are doing and what program evaluation is measuring. This mismatch is particularly profound for programs that serve youth of color, due to lack of historical participation and representation in OST research. As seen in the debates on evidence-based practice versus practice-based evidence, there are multiple strategies for addressing this discrepancy. One strategy is linking data systems across sectors (i.e.program, health and school data) to work towards a more connected and holistic understanding of youth needs. Another is increasing the participation of youth, their families and youth workers in measurement processes, so that the desired outcomes of evaluation better match the desired outcomes of the community. It is crucial that measurement strategies include potential protective or promotive factors associated with a reduction in disparities. This paper presents a conceptual model integrating youth participation strategies into the development of program evaluation systems.

Methods: The current study reviewed the published literature on cross-sector youth data systems, and strategies for and benefits of youth participation. Cross-sector data systems related to OST spaces were considered for this analysis. Youth participation in research and evaluation, or the involvement of youth in knowledge development at the program or community level, was also considered.

Results: Both strategies are important for quality, equity and access in the OST sector. Cross-sector data systems are particularly well suited to supporting youth who may represent a small portion of the population, but have complex social or health needs. Through the process of engagement and education, participatory approaches to quality assessment serve to increase individual, organizational and community capacity for addressing complex social issues of a particular community, closing that data collection mismatch. A conceptual model was developed to identify the ways these two strategies could work in union with one another for a data-use strategy aimed at increasing equity in OST.

Conclusions: The emergence of cross-sector data systems presents many benefits to the quality of out-of-school-time programming, as it offers a systemic approach to issues of equity and access. However, youth participation in these systems remains largely unexplored and has many challenges. Implications for how cross-sector data systems can serve as a catalyst for increasing youth participation, resulting in data systems that are reflective of youths’ OST program experiences and more responsive to community needs.