Results from a 1995 outcome evaluation describe a number of improvements in SACC programs because of staff training. A random sample of New York State SACC program directors (133 respondents), who had attended staff training workshops one year earlier, were questioned about changes in their programs.
A summary of the findings shows that, yes, school-age child care staff training does make a difference and does help to improve the quality of care provided. Adding interest centers for greater choices of activities, making materials more accessible, and including places for quiet activities were examples of changes made in the program environments after participants attended the staff development classes.
Similarly, modifications in discipline procedures were reported. Examples of changes included staff encouraging appropriate behavior rather than competition, comparison, or criticism; directors observing more effective staff/child communication patterns; and, watching care givers reinforce clear and consistent rules that had been developed in collaboration with the children.
Respondents also reported observing improved staff interaction with children that was more relaxed and cooperative. They mentioned seeing staff encourage children to work more collaboratively with adults. Additional examples were recorded of children using problem solving techniques for conflict resolution. As the children were included more in program decision-making, respect for property resulted and the children appeared to take greater "ownership" for the activities and for their own behavior.
After attending the training workshops, respondents said that they had a better understanding of the children's developmental needs, and an increased sensitivity for offering age and developmentally appropriate activities and resources. Over thirty percent of the respondents said that SACC personnel were told by parents, school personnel, and the children themselves that the SACC programs had a positive affect on the youngsters' school grades.
Since 1989, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York State Department of Social Services have offered annual SACC staff training in 15-30 hour modules at locations all across the state of New York including New York City. Over 500 SACC staff members have participated annually in all or part of the staff development experiences. Forty different training topics are available, but the primary subjects are: environments and components of high quality care; communications with children, families, and staff; planning activities to meet age and developmentally appropriate needs; behavior management; health, safety, and nutrition; promoting diversity; integrating children with special needs; child abuse prevention; and training your staff.
The training modules are designed to use a pyramid or "train-the-trainer"staff development model with interactive teaching materials and procedures. The workshop-based model is used to empower care givers to make program changes and improve the quality of care. In this model, SACC directors attend an average of 15 hours of workshop sessions. They then return to their local centers and organize similar staff development experiences for the care givers in their programs.
Quality school-age child care does not just happen; it is the result of careful planning and creative efforts on the he part of staff. The New York State SACC project has shown that staff training plays a vital role in helping programs provide quality care.
Copies of the 40 SACC staff development modules with an accompanying list of annotated teaching resources are available from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.