Investigators: Deborah Lowe Vandell, Kim Pierce, Elizabeth Cauffman (Department of Psychology & Social Behavior), Bonnie Halpern-Felsher (UC San Francisco Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine)
Since the 1990s, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of the out-of-school context for children and adolescents. Fueled in part by family demographics that include substantial numbers of employed mothers and single mothers, in part by concerns about poor academic performance and problem behaviors, and in part by intensified efforts to find ways to promote positive youth development, researchers and practitioners have focused their attention on two particular out-of-school settings: after-school programs and structured activities. Out-of-school time has a significant impact on the well-being of young people, with youth at greater risk for developmental and health problems when in unsupervised time, and in general at less risk when they participate in more structured, supervised activities. It is thus critical that we gain a more complete understanding of how and the extent to which participation in various unsupervised compared to supervised out-of-school contexts influence adolescent and young adult development. Such an understanding will provide important information relevant to the development and support of more evidence-based, targeted and effective out-of-school programs.
In this project, we conduct a follow-up with the participants in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), a 10-site national study that followed children from birth through age 15 years. Much of the prior research on the out-of-school context has focused on the elementary school years or the middle school years or the high school years. This project provides a unique opportunity to examine the connection between these three developmental periods and the longitudinal impact of out-of-school experiences on critical developmental outcomes at the end of high school. The SECCYD data set includes measures of out-of-school experiences from kindergarten through early high school, as well as multiple measures of child and family characteristics; family, school, and neighborhood contexts; and child developmental outcomes. In the current project, we are obtaining information from the study participants about their out-of-school experiences throughout high school as well as outcome measures such as high school graduation, readiness for college or the work force, civic engagement, healthy lifestyles, psychosocial maturity, and (reduced) externalizing and internalizing behavior problems.