Shakina T. Jones

THOMAS E. POULIN, PhD, Faculty Mentor and Chair

BRIAN ROLAND, PhD, Committee Member

MADLYN BONIMY, PhD, Committee Member

Charlyn A. Hilliman, PhD, Dean, School of Public Service Leadership

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Public Administration

Capella University

Month Year (of final conference call)

© Shakina T. Jones, 2019

*Purpose*: The purpose of this study was to address the gap in the literature by exploring the training needs of youth development workers in children’s residential settings. Youth development consists of activities that promote the health and well-being of youth transitioning into adulthood. Several studies exist that focus on prevention and program outcomes, however, studies that focus on the significance of training youth development workers is limited. *Methods*: A generic qualitative research design was used to collect data through semi-structured interviews, direct observation of staff training, and a 5-question youth development worker survey. Interviews were conducted with 10 employees that provide youth development services in a children’s residential setting. A standard questionnaire consisting of 14 questions was used with all participants. *Results*: 60% of the participants in the study did not receive training for their role as a youth development worker prior to being employed at the organization. A consistent method for designing and implementing programs was not identified in this study; there was a lack of structure and consistency around the decision-making process. Findings suggest that youth development workers agree that mandatory training is necessary and beneficial; however, it is recommended that training is focused on specific populations and/or tailored to specific programs. *Discussion*:

This dissertation is dedicated to my beautiful children, Mia and Michael Wade. I love you both more than words can express. My hope is that the completion of my dissertation is an example of perseverance and a lesson to teach you to never give up on your dreams. I would also like to dedicate this dissertation to myself for beating the odds and finishing what I started despite several challenges.

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