There are various options for before- and after-school care (also known as Out-of-School Time in some areas) for your school-age child. Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes may offer this type of care. Recreation centers, churches and youth programs, including organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs or YMCA, may also offer before-and after-school programs.
Additionally, in many communities, local schools provide after-school care or will contract with another agency to provide care before- and after-school. These programs can be very convenient for families since transportation is not an issue. Contact your local elementary school to determine if there is an on-site program available.
Before- and after-school care programs may or may not be required to be regulated depending on the state where you live. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency can help you determine if your program is required to be regulated and, if so, what regulations must be met. You can find your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency by entering your zip code and clicking on the search button on the right-hand side of this page.
Regulation does not ensure child care quality; however, it does set minimum health and safety standards and ensures that programs are regularly monitored for compliance with the regulations. Visit our page on child care licensing for more information.
Tips for Choosing This Type of Care:
- If before- and after-school care programs are required to be regulated where you live, during your visit ask to see a copy of the program’s license, registration or certification and inspection history. Some states post inspection histories online.
- Check to see if your state has inspection reports available online for you. These inspection reports will provide valuable information about the quality of your child care program. Check them before you select a program and periodically during the time that your child is enrolled.
- Ask your provider about the number of adults and children present (staff to child ratios).
- Make sure that each staff person has received training on key health and safety standards including first aid, CPR, medication administration, child abuse detection and prevention, and developmentally appropriate activities. Learn more about the ten recommended health and safety trainings that all adults caring for children should have.
- Ask about the daily schedule, including support for the completion of homework and a healthy meal or snack.
- Confirm that every adult working or volunteering in the program has had a comprehensive criminal history check.
- Print a list of questions and things to look for that you can take with you when visiting a potential before- and after-school care program.
- Get a copy of your provider’s policies, and sign a contract that outlines key areas. These areas should include hours of operation, rates, fees, field trip permission slips, transportation agreements and absence policies. Read more about recommended items that should be included in a child care contract.
- Our Selecting a Quality School-Age Program for Your Child brochure provides more detail on more important topics for you to consider when choosing care for this age group.