Date of Award

Fall 11-17-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Christopher Henrich

Third Advisor

Joel Meyers

Fourth Advisor

Ciara Smalls


Previous research suggests that parents can benefit from youth participation in after-school programs. However, little research has explored parent involvement in after-school programs as an important program characteristic leading to youth development. Bioecological Systems Theory suggests that individuals are influenced by the interactions of others within their environment. Building from this theory, it was posited that parent benefits resulting from involvement in after-school programs can facilitate positive youth development. Surveys were completed by 117 parents whose daughters participated in the Cool Girls, Inc. after-school program, a program serving primarily low-income, African American, urban youth. Using Exploratory Factor Analysis, a three factor structure of parent benefits was identified. Parent benefits include increased (1) parent-child communication, (2) parent social capital, and (3) parent-school involvement. A fourth parent benefit of help for working parents was identified in subsequent analyses using a smaller sample of only working parents (n = 86). Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that more parent after-school program involvement was associated with increases in each of the four parent benefits. As predicted, each of the four parent benefits mediated the association between parent involvement in after-school programs and parent reported changes in positive youth development outcomes due to participation in Cool Girls, Inc. These results suggest the importance of further research into ways parents benefit from their child’s participation in after-school programs and how those benefits can influence youth developmental trajectories. These findings also demonstrate the importance of involving parents in after-school programs.

Included in

Psychology Commons