Careers In


Working in Afterschool

Core Competencies

Core competencies set goals and standards for training, education and professional development to ensure quality. Out-of-school time (OST) core competencies define the expected applicable day-to-day knowledge and care for providers at all levels, including volunteers, and in all settings. Core competencies vary from state to state, but they all detail the skills, knowledge, ethics and practice to support child and youth development and families. At the same time, competencies empower practitioners to better understand their practice and further their professional development.


Early Childhood and School Age

In Pennsylvania, a leading body on core competencies and professional development for early childhood and school-age (up to 12 years) practitioners is the Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality (PA Keys). Sponsored by the Department of Public Welfare's Office of Child Development and Early Learning, the PA Keys’ Core Body of Knowledge (CBK), is a set of competencies linked to learning standards to be mastered by all those working with children to facilitate child learning and development and to work effectively with families.

Accompanying the CBK is the PA Keys’ Professional Development Record, a tool to help OST practitioners apply, track and plan their training as it corresponds with the CBK. PSAYDN Career Ladder page further explains professional development and career path options.

Core Competencies for Afterschool Educators, an additional resource from the University of Pennsylvania, recognizes already existing core competencies for children and youth and draws from them to guide OST educators and supervisors in their efforts to improve their practice and program quality.


Across the Country and Older Youth

The National Institute for Out-of-School Time published Youth Work Core Competencies – A review of Existing Frameworks and Purposes, an excellent review of professional development and core competencies in eight other states, including core competencies developed by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, 4-H, the U.S. Army and SparkAction (formerly known as National Collaboration for Youth Work Professionals).

For Youth Work and Youth Development practitioners, we also recommend New Foundations for the 4-H Youth Development Profession. 4-H works with children and youth through high school. The 4-H youth development profession relies on a 4-H professional research and knowledge base to guide efforts when working with and on behalf of young people.