Starting and Operating an Afterschool Program
Starting an afterschool program can be an arduous task, particularly in areas where funding and support are scarce. The Administration for Children and Families created a list of considerations for building strong afterschool programs that serve the needs of school-age youth and their families. These considerations include:
Estimate, Measure, and Assess Supply and Demand: New programs are more likely to be successful if they meet an identified need in their community. Program managers should speak to local school officials, parents, or child care resources and referral agencies to determine where there is a need for a particular type of afterschool program.
Develop a Vision: Being able to articulate outcomes is key to attracting families and supporters. For example, some afterschool programs aim to raise academic scores, while others try to prevent youth violence or to promote healthy youth development.
Find Funding and Develop Partnerships: Most programs will likely need some start-up funding to get off the ground. Managers need to learn about federal, state, or local funds as well as look for private and in-kind donations to support afterschool programs.
Meet State Regulations: States have minimum licensing requirements that apply to programs serving children, including afterschool programs. These requirements typically vary for types of providers, and often include separate requirements for school-age care settings. Program managers should contact their state's licensing agency to find out about the requirements.
Plan High-Quality Activities: There is a growing body of information on curricula and activities for afterschool programs and providers. Program managers should familiarize themselves with different types of activities and identify local training opportunities to gain the know-how and resources to serve school-age kids.
Other important considerations are planning resource and personnel needs, including staffing, transportation, location, and hours of service. Program managers should decide on these issues ahead of time in order to properly assess costs and plan funding endeavors (McElvain, 2005).
For more information about starting a program, contact your state Lead Agency for Child Care (PDF, 8 pages).
McElvain, Carol et al. (2005). “Beyond the Bell: Third Edition” Apt Associates. Retrieved from http://www.beyondthebell.org/StartupGuide.pdf
The Child Care Bureau, (2005). “Starting an Afterschool Program: A Resource Guide”.