Choosing After School Care
Children in quality afterschool programs tend to do better academically in school and have fewer problems with delinquent behavior, alcohol and drugs. Effective afterschool programs offer a different environment from the regular school day and differ significantly from child care services for younger children. To find the afterschool program that is right for you and your child:
- Ask family members, friends and school personnel for recommendations.
- Call the programs and ask about availability, hours and fees.
- Visit the programs and interview staff.
Look for these features in a quality afterschool program:
Well-trained staff that:
- Have all been cleared through a Level II background screening and drug test.
- Are certified in CPR and First Aid.
- Engage children and youth in positive and respectful ways through listening, acceptance and appreciation while adhering to clear limits and consistent rules.
- A system for documenting the arrival and departure of all children and youth.
- Written policies and procedures for transporting children and youth safely, if applicable.
- Adequate adult supervision of children and youth at all times.
- Indoor and outdoor activities adapted to suit children of varying ages.
- A daily schedule that is flexible, allowing children and youth to transition smoothly from one activity to another.
- Availability of homework help, tutoring, and other engaged-learning activities from communication with local teachers or school administrators.
- Drinking water is available at all times and healthy snack options are offered.
- Resources, such as a library, sports equipment and enough art, craft and reading materials to keep children interested.
- Activities that develop personal and interpersonal social skills and promote respect for cultural diversity. For adolescents, activities that foster an appropriate sense of independence based on their level of maturity.
- For a comprehensive list of standards for quality afterschool programs download the Florida Afterschool Network’s brochure: http://myfan.org/downloads/FAN%20Brochure
- Can children come before school and on holidays as well as in the afternoon? Is there an extra fee for that? Is there a late fee if you must pick up your children after the program is over?
- Can children attend only a few times a week instead of every day—to accommodate parents’ schedules, to save on costs, or to allow for partial sibling care?
- What are the costs? Are there extra fees for trips, personal tutoring and lessons?
- Are there opportunities for family involvement?
For more tips, contact the Florida Afterschool Network at (850) 222-1340 or www.myfan.org.
Your children can help you evaluate their after-school care. Remember to talk with your child about the program and each day’s activities.