Looking for an After School Program for Your Family?
Selecting a quality after school program is an important family decision.
There are many different types of after school programs. Some are small programs that focus on a special set of activities, like sports, drama, or tutoring. Others are larger with a wide range of activities. Some are in your child's school. Others are in out of school locations like, Boys and Girls Clubs, or community centers. All of ASAP's programs offer five-days-a-week programs, and most all provide services free of charge.
How to select the best program for your child and your family:
Start by deciding what is important to you. Should the program be located at the school? Does it provide transportation if it is not at the school? How much can you spend? Many programs are free or subsidized, while others charge tuition. Are there specific activities you want your child to participate in?
After school programs should all meet certain standards. ASAP and the National Afterschool Association has identified several keys to quality. Look for these keys when you visit your local after school program. If you see them, you'll know that your child will be well-cared for in a safe and enriching environment. If you don't see them, feel free to ask the program director about them. Here's what to look for:
Look at how staff members work with the children:
- Do they treat children with respect and listen to what they have to say? They should make children feel welcome and comfortable.
- Do they know each child's interests, personality, culture, and home language?
- Do they help children learn by giving them opportunities to think for themselves?
- Do they use positive techniques to guide the behavior of children by giving children attention when they cooperate, share, care for materials, or join in activities?
Look at the indoor environment:
- Is there open space for activities?
- Is there comfortable furniture for relaxing?
- Is there a quiet space for homework and tutoring?
- Is there enough room for all activities?
Look at the outdoor environment:
- Is there a variety of play equipment?
- Do children have a chance to play outdoors?
Look at the schedule of activities:
- Is there a wide variety of activities to choose from?
- Are the activities stimulating?
- Are the activities well-suited to the children's interests and ages?
- Are there plenty of supplies for each activity?
Look into health, safety, and nutrition:
- Are the facilities clean?
- Is there adequate, heat, ventilation, and light?
- Is the play equipment safe?
- Are staff members responsive to individual health needs of children?
- Are children well supervised at all times?
- Are healthy snacks served?
Ask how the program is run:
- What is the staff to child ratio? There should be at least 1 staff for every 16 children ages six years and up.
- What is the policy towards parent involvement?
Please contact one of ASAP's funded programs and talk to them directly about your family's specific circumstances and needs.