Continuous Quality Improvement Mythbusters

You’ve probably heard about Continuous Quality Improvement, or CQI, a lot recently, whether here on the ClubX Blog or in other resources and communications from BGCA. We know it is the process to improve your Club at every level, from program quality to safety to staff retention and everything else. But CQI might also seem a little bit daunting. That’s why today I’m busting some common myths we’ve heard about the CQI process. Read on to get the facts as well as all the resources you need to get started on your own CQI journey.

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Myth: CQI is a new program from BGCA.

Fact: CQI is not a program, but an improvement process that is used in many fields, including healthcare, leadership practices, social services, manufacturing and more. For Boys & Girls Clubs, CQI is used to improve organizational practices and systems and program quality.

Myth: CQI is something we only need to do once.

Fact: CQI is an ongoing cycle of improvement. After finishing an Assess, Plan, and Improve cycle (and having a celebration for all the hard work done!), another cycle should begin to build upon your success and target other areas. Ultimately, CQI should become a regular part of your organization’s calendar, allowing you to improve year after year.

Image of the CQI Cycle, with a circle with three sections. The first section reads Assess and says "Determine your focus area then review available data and stakeholder feedback to understand how your Club is performing." The second section is Plan and says "Using the data collected during the "Assess" phase, determine improvement areas and develop an action plan collectively with staff." The third section says Improve and says "Implement the action plan, monitor and measure progress, celebrate successes and identify any desired changes before beginning the cycle again."

Myth: CQI should be part of performance reviews.

Fact: The focus of CQI is to learn and improve, and it should not be punitive. Research shows (Afterschool Matters, Harvard Business Review) that individuals demonstrate the greatest performance improvement when they feel comfortable being transparent about strengths and weaknesses, can problem solve as a team, and receive support to reach goals, instead of punishment for missing them.

Myth: CQI is only for large Club organizations with lots of resources.

Related Myth: CQI is too difficult for my large Club organization.

Fact: No matter your Club’s size or resources, CQI is for you. Regardless of the focus areas for improvement, CQI cycles can and should be implemented at both the organizational level and at the individual site level. Creating a core CQI team to coordinate efforts may be helpful to manage the processes.

Myth: Only senior leaders at the Club should engage with CQI.

Fact: In the CQI process, staff at all levels of the Club work together to assess current youth development practice, program planning and delivery, and other systems such as safety or community outreach; make improvement plans with the data they’ve collected; and improve through coaching and targeted training. Involving a broad range of staff levels is a great tool for staff retention, because it will help build professional skills and increase engagement. You can find tools for facilitating team discussions on the CQI Toolkit.

Myth: We don’t have time to do CQI.

Fact: CQI is a proven way to improve Club operations, and ultimately leads to better youth outcomes. Not only can your CQI cycle be as broad or as narrow as makes sense for your Club’s time and capacity, in the long term, it will save you time with improved processes and efficiencies.

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BGCA has resources to support each phase of the CQI process. These include:

  •, our Continuous Quality Improvement hub. On the toolkit you’ll find templates, videos, training links and more, including how to prepare to begin your CQI cycle and how to reflect when you complete.
  • CQI Training Series. Combining instructor-led and self-directed sessions, this series will help you and your Club make the most of your time and resources. See course descriptions, registration links and scheduling information at Dates posted seasonally.
  • Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. Through our partnership, BGCA provides training, certification, and tools from Weikart at no cost to support your program quality improvement goals. These include the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool, Program Quality Assessment Basics (virtual instructor-led and self-guided through SLU), External Assessor Reliability Training, and Youth Works Methods sessions (live instructor-led and self-guided through SLU)
  • CQI Consultations. Schedule a consultation with a member of the CQI team at

Download a printable version of this post with additional content here.

How have you used CQI in your Club? What are your best tips for getting started with improving program quality? We want to share! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email

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