Underqualified and Overwhelmed: Supporting Students After School

Underqualified and OverwhelmedSnapshot: For months, college students who run an after-school program have struggled to manage the challenging behaviors of a child with disabilities. As volunteers with no special education credentials and little training, can and should they continue to work with this student?


Case Description: More than 10 million children – some of whom have disabilities - attend after-school programs in the United States. After-school programs affiliated with public schools are required by law to provide students with disabilities with the same special education services they receive during the regular school day. However, most children attend independent after school programs that have much more flexibility in their work with students with disabilities. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that few of these after-school programs have qualified educators on their staff to provide special education services. Instead, students with disabilities may work with untrained staff members who do not hold any special education credentials. Therefore, these students may not receive the supports and services they need to thrive. 

“Underqualified and Overwhelmed” explores whether and how an after-school program staffed by minimally-trained college students can serve a student with disabilities. It centers on a conversation between the directors of the program, who wonder whether they should allow the student to remain in the program. The issues of inclusion and discipline raised in this case may prepare after school program staff members for their work with students with disabilities. 

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