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Are you concerned with what your child is doing after school? Maybe your child is getting to the age when child care makes her feel a little embarrassed. Kind of like when you got a babysitter for her when she was 7. She may have kindly reminded you that she was not a baby, nor does she need child care. But she does need to be some place safe after school where she might get help with homework, hang out with her friends and be encouraged to participate in physical activities. Now if you could only agree on a place.
There are many child care programs available for school-age children. School-age programs can meet the needs of children ready to be independent and out of a child care program and parents looking for safety and structure.
When considering a school-age program, look for a program that will allow your child to continue growing socially, emotionally and physically. As with any child care program, ask friends and family about any school-age programs they are familiar with.
Types of school-age programs include:
Regardless of the location, take the same precautions as you did when you were looking for child care when she was a toddler.
Ask these questions:
In addition, when visiting, ask some of the youth what they like about attending the program. Inquire about some of their favorite activities. Also speak with staff about how they interact with youth during their time at the program.
Another consideration you will want to make is the program’s schedule of care. You’ll want to know if this program is an “after-school” program only, or if they also offer service during school breaks and summer. Similar to your toddler, you will want your school-age child to experience consistency in the care she is receiving. The relationships created will benefit her development as they did in her early years in child care. In addition, she’ll be having fun with her peers and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that she’s receiving quality care in a safe environment.
For more information on locating quality school-age programs, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency (link) and check out Selecting a High-Quality School-Age Program for Your Child. (link to pubs or PDF of pub)