Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 430-440

First online:

The After-School Needs and Resources of a Low-Income Urban Community: Surveying Youth and Parents for Community Change

  • Rebecca Cornelli SandersonAffiliated withLoyola University Chicago Email author 
  • , Maryse H. RichardsAffiliated withLoyola University Chicago

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Using a collaborative research approach, this project describes a partnership between community residents and university researchers to develop a comprehensive survey of the after-school needs of a low-income urban community in a large Midwestern city. Surveying parents and children was considered particularly important because the current literature on after-school does not include much input from them, the key stakeholders in programming. By surveying pre- and young adolescent youth (N = 416) and parents (N = 225) in the community, information was gathered to document the need for after-school programming, tap program preferences, and uncover barriers to participation and enrollment. Survey findings revealed significant differences between youth and parent perspectives. Disagreements between youth and parent survey responses suggest that after-school programs in the community should offer a balance of academic, recreational, and social activities, as well as a tutoring or homework component. Further, in order to increase participation and attendance rates, community after-school programs need to address the following barriers to participation: safety, transportation, family responsibilities (e.g., care for siblings, household chores), and access to information about available programs. These findings guided the planning of future after-school programs. The survey results and comparisons between youth and parent data will be presented.


Collaborative research After-school programs Urban communities Parent survey Youth survey