Core Competencies

The Palm Beach County Afterschool Core Competencies offers practitioners practical ways to improve their skills and provides engaging and interactive environments that are enriched with positive adult support.

The Palm Beach County Afterschool Core Competencies for afterschool practitioners have been created, reviewed and adapted in collaboration with key stakeholders in the community and leading consultants in the field. They identify the knowledge, competencies and skills an afterschool practitioner needs to work effectively with children and youth.


“Core competencies” refer to the observable skills that lead to delivery of high quality services and programs and establish standards of practice. They are designed to serve as a guide in determining the practitioner’s learning and professional needs. They are relevant to all positions held in an afterschool program – from executive directors to volunteers.


The Palm Beach County Afterschool Core Competencies document is intended to outline standards of good youth development practices and should be used with the understanding that practitioners possess different competencies at different levels based on many factors, (i.e., life experience, positions held, etc.) and therefore will have different needs. The most important use of these competencies is that they serve as a guideline for individual reflection and assessment of one’s skills and learning needs as planning for personal and professional development takes place. They should not be used as a punitive way of evaluating performance.


The Core Competencies booklet is available for purchase through Prime Time.

The core competencies are grouped into eight core knowledge areas:

    1. Child/Youth Growth and Development
    2. Family and Community Relationships
    3. Program Planning and Development
    4. Learning Environment and Curriculum
    5. Interaction with Children/Youth
    6. Child/Youth Observation and Assessment
    7. Professional Development and Leadership
    8. Health, Safety and Nutrition

Under each area, there are five levels – spanning from Entry Level to Level 4. These levels outline a continuum from preliminary to advanced skills that demonstrate a higher level of professionalism.

Excelling in Out-of-School Time:
A Guide to Goal-Setting Using the Core Competencies

As an afterschool professional, it is important to continuously grow and strengthen your skills in the field.  The core competencies are a great tool to use for this purpose as you can use them to determine areas for improvement and set goals based on these areas.  To learn more about how to use the core competencies for goal-setting, view this interactive video module.  This module provides an overview of the core competencies and will take you step-by-step through the goal-setting process.  Learn how to determine your level and areas for improvement, as well as to develop SMART goals and use the Individual Career Plan form to document and think through your goals.