Building Supportive Relationships in Afterschool

High-quality afterschool programs can have many benefits for the students who attend them: better attitudes toward school and stronger school engagement; stronger school performance; higher rates of school attendance; fewer behavioral problems; and lower dropout rates. For afterschool programs to thrive and make a difference in students' lives, staff must develop supportive relationships with a variety of stakeholders.

In the 2003–2008 National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning research study, experts visited 53 high-functioning afterschool programs across the United States that reported student academic gains. National Partnership staff conducted rigorous observations of the programs that were identified and focused on adults and students who had built supportive relationships that helped motivate students to expand their learning and do well in school.

This brief shares some of the study’s findings on relationships and provides strategies for fostering positive relationships among a range of stakeholders. Afterschool leaders and staff can use these insights to develop stronger relationships with the different partners who are invested in their program. Leaders in districts, schools, and community-based organizations may also find that these insights offer guidance on how to better support afterschool programs.

The specific strategies on building supportive relationships are the following:

1. Encourage positive relationships between staff and students.

2. Link to the school-day staff.

3. Support and train program staff.

4. Engage family members.

5. Collaborate with community organizations.