A Qualitative Outcome Study of Boys and Girls Club Program Leaders, Club Members, and Parents
Keywords:Boys and Girls Club, outcomes, qualitative, program goals, program leaders, youth development
AbstractThis qualitative study examined the outcomes of youths' involvement in the Boys and Girls Club in a large city in the Southwest. In addition, the study examined whether there was congruence between the agency's articulated mission statement and goals and the staff members', club members', and parents' perceptions of the agency's impact. Data collection procedures included: (a) participant observations at program facilities, and (b) 25 interviews with program staff, 61 interviews with club members, and 17 interviews with parents. The results indicated that involvement in the Boys and Girls Club produced three central outcomes: a nurturing environment, the acquisition of positive behaviors, and the development of competence and self-esteem. The nurturing environment of the club provided feelings of belonging/love, a second home and sense of family, a safe haven from d1e violence and negative experiences of the streets, and the meeting of many basic human needs. The positive behaviors acquired by members included staying out of trouble, getting along with others, acquiring positive values, adopting positive role models, learning discipline, and acquiring leadership skills. Club members also increased their perceptions of personal competence and self-esteem through successful involvement in a variety of activities. The literature suggests that these outcomes are very important for the healthy development of youth (Scales & Leffert, 1999).The articulated program goals of the Boys and Girls Club of America, and those adopted by the local agency involved in this study, address six core areas. The results of this study indicated that there was some lack of congruence between the stated goals of the club and the outcomes articulated by the club's staff, members, and parents. Alth ough staff were required to plan activities in each of six specific core areas, for the most part the activities simply became broad and varied contexts in which staff members could facilitate d1e three major outcomes they perceived as most important. In other words, the staff did not consistently use the activities to address the program goals in each of the core program areas; instead they used the activity context to develop a caring relationship, shape positive behaviors, and promote a sense of competence and self-esteem in the youth. There are several implications of this study. The outcomes of involvement in the club indicate that this agency is making a positive contribution to the lives of youth, which should be communicated to all stakeholders, as well as funding agencies. However, there was a discrepancy between the agency's articulated goals related to the core areas and the outcomes as perceived by the staff, members, and their parents. The goals of the agency should reflect the major outcomes identified in tlus study. In addition, if the core area goals are to be accomplished, the activities must be more systematically directed at their attainment. Agency effectiveness could be increased and evaluated if there is a direct link between goals, programs, and valued outcomes. Training for leaders should focus on the skills necessary to develop relationships with youth and means for systematically advancing them in skill acquisition and development.
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