Impact of Parent Satisfaction toward the Quality of After School Programs on Their Conative Behaviors: A Path Analysis
During school years, children are directly and indirectly exposed to physical and psychosocial challenges that are literally precursors of success and risk. Ideally, children should not be left to face these auspicious developments alone. They depend on adults to carefully guide the process of maturation. Given the importance of these formative years, it is striking that organized adult responses to serve the needs of children all-too-often are inadequate. This is acutely evidenced during the hours after the close of school. A growing number of children are left alone after-school and without care. An estimated seven million school-aged children are “latchkey kids” who have no supervision for an extended period of time each day. A majority of these latchkey children, about 55%, usually come from households with two working parents or a single parent. Children who are exposed to inadequate or non-existent care are more susceptible to the influence of others than those who attend structured and supervised care. Violent crimes committed by youth are the highest during after-school hours. Nonetheless, children who are provided with care are frequently involved in activities that are unstructured, poorly supervised, and non-productive. It is apparently necessary to provide well-organized, enrichment programs to youth, especially during the after-school hours from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. A great need exists for after-school activities that provide appropriate youth supervision and involvement. Academic literature supports that children and parents are well served by carefully organized and supervised youth programs during after-school hours. These programs can extend social, educational, and recreational activities for children, while protecting them from unhealthy environments. The growing community interests in after-school programs have been due to the following four public beliefs: (a) public spaces such as streets and playgrounds are no longer safe for children, (b) it is stressful and unproductive for children to be left on their own during after-school hours, (c) many children need additional time and individual attention for academic works beyond regular schools can provide, and (d) economically disadvantaged children need opportunities for developmentally enriching activities.
Although the nature and curriculum of after-school programs are often heterogeneous, consensus usually exists in key program objectives. After-school curriculums generally center on one or more of the following four components: (a) academic enhancement, (b) personal skill development, (c) community involvement, and (d) enrichment activities. Most of youth sport and recreation programs take place during the after school hours, which would fall under enrichment activities. To achieve these program objectives, it is critical to have quality program curriculum, organization, implementation, supervision, facility, and evaluation. Good quality programs can assist students in their schooling and help them avoid high risk and unsupervised situations. Quality programs would attract and maintain participants to continuously participate in the program. Parents, therefore, can choose to continue working during after school hours with a sense of security and well-being about the care and enhanced learning opportunities available to their children. This is especially important for families headed by single parents — a fast growing segment of our communities. To enhance the effectiveness of program management, program evaluation plays an important role in providing information for curriculum and activity adjustment, reallocation of funding, improvement of facility, staff development, decision-making, and accountability. Previous evaluation studies have primarily focused on program participants and program teachers. Nevertheless, parent observations and their opinions of program quality would also be fundamental for recognizing the merits, weaknesses, and future directions of programs. Numerous researchers have indicated that parental involvement in the education of their children is an important aspect of effective education programs from the elementary through high school years. Parental influences significantly impact children’s participation in exercise, games, and sports. Parents positively or negatively influence children’s motivation levels as they engage in activities and play a significant role in children’s engagement in a variety of learning, sporting, and other activities.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between parent satisfaction toward the quality of after school enrichment programs and intentions for program re-enrollment and referral. A total of 8,136 parents of students enrolled at 268 after programs responded to a survey in three language versions: English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. Of the respondents, a majority responded to the English version (89.4%), and the Spanish and Creole versions accounted for 9.7% and 0.8%, respectively. The survey form included three sections: (a) the Parent Scale for Enrichment Program (PSEP; Zhang, Lam, Smith, Fleming, & Connaughton, 2005) that had a total of 23 items in a Likert 5-point scale under four factors (Program Management – 6 items, Program Offering – 6 items, Program Assurance – 4 items, and Program Effect - 7items); (b) criterion variables including two variables (intention to re-enroll child(ren) in the after school program and intention to refer the program to others); and (c) background variables for sample description purpose. These parents had one or more children in the after school program (M = 1.45, SD = 0.72), with one child being the majority (i.e., 66.0%). In terms of ethnic background, parents were primarily of African American and Hispanic background, accounting for over 75% respondents. Their households had two to eight people (M = 4.32, SD = 1.36), with a majority of them having a household income less than $40,000 (i.e., 85%). This percentage was consistent with the portion of students receiving free or reduced lunch at school. Over 80% families had resided in the current community for over three years; however, close to 20% were new to the community, suggesting the possibility of a mobile population segment.
Zero-order correlations among the four PSEP factors and the two criterion variables were calculated and tested. All the PSEP factors were found to be significantly (p < .01) related to the two criterion variables, namely, re-enrollment and referral intentions. These findings indicate that satisfied parents in the areas of Program Management, Program Offering, Program Effect, and Program Assurance were likely to re-enroll their children in the after school program and refer the program to others. To further examine the predictability of the PSEP factors (i.e., Program Management, Program Offering, Program Assurance, and Program Effect) to program re-enrollment and referral intentions, a path analysis was conducted by adopting the maximum likelihood estimate. The path analysis consisted of three regressions, with direct effects on Re-enrollment and Referral in the last two regressions and indirect effects assessed in the first regression. In the first regression, Program Effect was regressed on the three control variables: Program Offering, Program Management, and Program Assurance. In the second regression, Re-enrollment was regressed on both Program Effect and three control variables. In the final regression, Referral was regressed on both Program Effect and three control variables. The values of Goodness-of-Fit indices suggested the resulted model fit the data well (χ2 (2) = 8.1, p < .05, CFI = 1.0, TLI = .998, RMSEA = .018, and SRMR = .003). All three control variables were significantly (p < .05) predictive of Program Effect. In predicting Re-enrollment and Referral, the direct effect of Program Effect was significant (β = .21 and β = .16 respectively, both p < .001), where both direct and indirect effects of Program Assurance and Program Management were significant, and Program Offering was found to have only indirect effect mediated by Program Effect. The regression with all variables entered predicting re-enrollment directly and indirectly explained a total of 31.8% variance, and the regression with all variables entered predicting referral directly and indirectly explained a total of 35.6% variance. In summary, all four PSEP factors were found to be important and relevant factors affecting parents’ decision to re-enroll their children in the after school program and refer the program to other parents. These findings indicated that the PSEP factors were primary considerations by parents when making a decision to re-enroll their child(ren) into after school programs and conduct program referrals; thus, they should be highly considered by the program administrations when planning and managing after school programs.
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Min, Sophia D.; Mao, Luke Lunhua; Zhang, James J.; Byrd, Charles E.; and Jin, Liyan, "Impact of Parent Satisfaction toward the Quality of After School Programs on Their Conative Behaviors: A Path Analysis" (2011). Association of Marketing Theory and Practice Proceedings 2011. 48.