The impact of an afterschool program on youth's social skills

This study explored how the social skills of a group of youth, deemed at risk, changes as a result of their involvement in CCPY, an after school mentoring program, through four months of their participation. A descriptive longitudinal study was conducted utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. The sample included 26 incoming 9th grade students from the Step-Up program of CCPY. The Social Skills Checklist Survey was used to examine the participants’ social skill scores at four times throughout the duration of the study. The qualitative component of this study consisted of in-depth interviews to identify which parts of the program were effective in impacting the social skills scores. Results indicated that after a month of being in the Step-Up program youth’s social skills, both basic and advanced, showed a statistically significant increase from the starting of the program. This increase continued through four months into the program, when the last quantitative data were collected. Participants identified mentoring, non-judgmental staff, peer support, and structured challenging activities as components of the Step- Up program that contributed to this increase. This study highlights the need for such afterschool programs and for social workers to advocate for youth, at risk, to be given leadership positions and be challenged to go beyond their comfort zones while being provided support and mentoring to help them succeed in these positions in order to help them improve their social skills. Future research needs to continue to examine if these skills are sustainable over time, especially once they graduate from the CCPY program.