What Parents Should Look for in a Quality Afterschool Program
Are you looking for an afterschool activity for your school-age child or youth? Most likely, there is an organization in your community that develops afterschool programming for youth.Check out our program directory to find a program near you!
Even if you are selecting a program for convenience (and sometimes there is limited choice), parents can still be educated as to the key characteristics of a high-quality program. Ask questions of your afterschool provider. Support the program administration and staff as they strive for higher quality. Be a partner alongside the program, not just a consumer. Here are a few things to look for.
When visiting an afterschool program, you should see or the staff should be able to explain, at minimum, the following:
- Positive Human Relationships - Caring relationships and interactions between youth and adults, youth and their peers, program staff and co-workers, and between program staff and family members.
- Appropriate Indoor and Outdoor Environments - Healthy, clean, safe, nurturing, and accessible space for indoor and outdoor activities; attractive and welcoming furnishings; written emergency procedures; appropriate space, supplies and furnishings to support the program’s activities and youths’ needs.
- Effective Programming and Activities - Purposeful, well-planned, age-appropriate, and balanced academic and enrichment programming schedules and activities reflect the program’s mission and promote the development (physical, social, emotional, and cognitive) of all children and youth.
- Strong Parent, Family, Youth, and Community Partnerships - Partnerships built with youth, families, and varied community partners to address community and neighborhood needs; active engagement of school staff, parents, youth, volunteers, and community partners in managing and operating the program.
- Effective Program Administration - Sound fiscal infrastructure exists; program activities are aligned with school standards; program policies and procedures are understood by program staff, youth, and parents.
- Effective Staffing and Professional Development - Diverse, educated, and well-trained program staff and volunteers; staff and volunteers regularly assessed regarding job performance and job satisfaction; staff and volunteers are provided opportunities to build skills.
- Integration of Youth Development Principles and Practices into Programming and Administration - Program provides opportunities for youth voice, choice, and decision-making throughout activities; youth are involved in administrative decision-making and oversight.
- Measurement of Outcomes and Effective Evaluation - Measurable program and participant outcomes for ongoing program planning, improvement, and evaluation; user-friendly evaluation/measurement tools are used.
- Effective Fiscal Management - Program administration manages diversified funding streams; program budget monitored regularly.
- Strong Program and Personal Advocacy - Awareness building activities occur intentionally and effectively to increase capacity for continued support and growth.
Your regional Child Care Resource and Referral can be a great resource for you as you seek an afterschool program. Visit the state website here and find your regional representative.