Continuous Quality Improvement
Continuous Quality Improvement Seeking to improve quality is part of striving to create the best-possible Outcome-Driven Club Experience, as called for in our Formula for Impact theory of change. Every Club or Youth Center, no matter its size or resources, can and should make continuous quality improvement (CQI) activities a part of its practice. CQI is a cyclical, ongoing process with three phases:
- Assess: Review available data and stakeholder feedback to understand how your Club is performing. Understanding where you are now helps you know where you need to go.
- Plan: Collaborate with your staff to develop an action plan to build on strengths and address growth areas.
- Improve: Implement the action plan with your staff, monitor your progress, and celebrate your successes in improving program quality.
Club-Wide Annual Planning
Overall Program Planning and Assessment With the Formula for Impact as your framework, use the steps outlined below. These align with the Assess and Plan phases of a typical CQI process. Use the steps to help you plan a balanced annual overall program that meets the unique needs of your youth, staff, community, site and organization.
Your overall program should:
- Be developmentally appropriate for different age groups.
- Utilize all available staff and program areas based on your staffing pattern.
- Provide a balanced mix of interest- and needs-based Targeted Programs and High-Yield Activities to help youth achieve Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles outcomes.
- Provide opportunities for structured and less-structured time.
- Reflect and celebrate your community’s cultures, traditions and customs.
Club-Wide Goal Setting
What goals and priorities are already established? What grants, programs and scheduling or staffing structures are mandatory across all sites? Seek help from your supervisor to learn about the non-negotiables. Use National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI) data to learn about your organization and Club site’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. If you work in a Youth Center, use data from inspection reports and program quality assessments. Review your data to assess how your last overall program plan worked, what your successes were, and what opportunities you have for improvement. Next, think about the youth in your site. Consider each age group. Use the information you gathered so far to draft questions to ask them in a future listening session. This is an essential part of the process! Engaging youth in the early planning helps to bring the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development to life in the way youth want to experience them. For example:
- What do they love to do?
- What is fun to them?
Together with your staff team, identify two to three Club- or Youth Center-wide goals as the most important priorities to address during the year. Review and analyze pertinent organizational, site and community data. Develop your goals based on the findings. And don’t forget to consider input from your staff and youth. If there are organizational goals – such as increasing average daily attendance, bolstering teen membership or offering workforce development programs – be sure to incorporate them at your site. Your goals also may focus on operating in a way to enhance program quality. Such goals could include:
- Strengthening staff’s youth development practices
- Improving teamwork and communication
- Making your Club or Youth Center’s climate more positive and supportive of youth and staff
To achieve your Club-wide goals, adhere to timelines and write strategies in the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) manner. Make sure all staff members and volunteers understand their individual roles in contributing to Club-wide goals. This might seem complicated. So let’s consider a real-world example to visualize how it all works. The Menu of Goals and Sample Strategies that follows lists goals, along with potential strategies for achieving them. It’s adapted from one that Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta created for its sites. To develop their Club-wide goals and strategies, site directors worked with their site teams – consisting of full- and part-time staff and youth – and followed a few basic steps:
- Select one staff-focused goal and one youth-focused goal from the menu.
- Develop strategies on how to achieve the selected goals.
- Record decisions on a Club-Wide Goals and Strategies Plan.
- Work together to implement the plan.
Club-Wide Annual Calendar
Create an annual calendar for your site to help ensure a well-balanced schedule during the entire school year. When you have varied program and activity themes going on at all times, every young person has something to look forward to every day at the Club or Youth Center. The annual calendar should note days when there is special scheduling in your site so Club families and staff can plan in advance. These special circumstances might include schools’ early release days, days the Club is closed for staff training or holidays, and special events like family nights. The annual calendar should be easily accessible for families and staff. The goal of having an annual calendar is to capture Club goals and constraints. You might have a seasonal focus – such as Academic Success during the summer to combat summer learning loss, or Good Character and Citizenship during the back-to-school season to support youth in getting back to school with a focus on values. This is also where you can document when you will conduct staff training. This will help you plan for the wide variety of learning your staff and young people need. This may include emergency safety training with youth and staff during the first month of the school year, or how to administer the NYOI survey to youth in February. During annual calendar planning, take into account significant events in young people’s schedules, such as a school winter break. Such a landmark is a natural place to end a session or semester.