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Three Steps to Choosing an After School Program

Aug 07, 2015 02:16PM ● By News Desk

Choosing an after school care program for your little ones can be confusing and quite stressful if you don’t know where to start.

Following these three steps can help get you moving in the right direction.   

Step 1: Determine your needs by answering the following questions:

 What is your budget?

Some programs are income based and/or accept government assisted child care assistance (CCA).

 How many days per week is after care needed? 

Some programs require full time and some offer part time.

Until what time is care needed?

Most programs have a pick up time between 5-6pm.

Can you provide transportation from school to after care or is transportation needed?

Some programs provide transportation and some do not. You can also check to see if your chosen facility is located on a bus route.

Do you have any like minded friends with children in a recommended program?

Asking trusted friends with experience is a great way to find trusted programs and also learn what to expect.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the different types of after school child care programs in order to help choose what’s best for you and your child:

After School Care Programs:  Some public schools offer Extended Learning or YMCA 

 programs, while some private schools provide their own after care programs. Visit your local school board’s website or contact your child’s school to determine what type of care, if any, is offered.

Day Care Centers: If your child attended day care prior to attending school, ask if they have a program for school age children.  If you have no experience with day care centers, you can visit under Louisiana for the rules and regulations governing the centers.  There is a difference between licensed, Class A and Class B centers. 

Residential Day Care: Some sitters provide after school care in their home. If your child attended this type of setting, ask if they provide after school care. Or you may have a family member that is available for this type of job.

In Home Sitter: You may want to consider an in home sitter. Again, ask for recommendations or consider a friend or family member and/or their teenage or college age students. 

Step Three: Prior to making a decision on any aftercare program/facility, set up an interview to meet with the program director/manager. The following questions are just a sample of those you may want to ask.  

Are snacks provided? If so, what type of snacks?

If your child has an allergy or any special needs, will they accommodate?

What is the child to teacher ratio?

What physical activities are provided for the children?
Are the children monitored and helped with homework?

What credentials do the teachers and caregivers have?

What time do they close in the afternoon?

What is their holiday schedule?

Although the list of questions can be endless, be mindful that the director/manager’s time is not, so it’s a good idea to have your questions written down so you won’t forget to ask those that are most important to you. Remember to take notes during the interview and to tour the facility making sure to look for safety concerns, odd odors and staff demeanor.

If you’ve done your homework prior to the visit and still have a good impression of the program and facility after your interview and tour, chances are your child will be in good hands. Good programs are in high demand, so once you’ve found a program you like; submit your application as soon as possible as space may be limited.