After-School Programs: Does Structure Matter?

Shannon C. Womer, University of Maryland at College Park
Melissa Kellstrom, University of Maryland at College Park
Denise C. Gottfredson, University of Maryland at College Park

Previous research has indicated that the grouping of high-risk youth in unstructured programs can have detrimental effects on delinquency and other problem behaviors. This paper examines program structure and whether the level of structure (high, medium or low) is related to delinquency and other problem behaviors as previous research had suggested. Using data from the Maryland After-School Community Grant Program, this paper examines the level of structure for 14 after-school programs participating in two consecutive years of program observations. This paper details the changes in the level of structure for these programs from observation year one to observation year two. Finally, this paper explores the relationship between the level of program structure and the level of problem behaviors for 29 after-school programs (14 programs with two years of program observations and 15 programs with one year of program observations).

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Updated 05/20/2006