Tips for finding a program | If there is no program
Looking for a quality afterschool program? Here are some places to start:
1. Ask a teacher or principal at your school if they have an afterschool program. If not, ask why. Tell them about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program and for more information visit the website.
2. Contact community organizations such as:
3. Talk to other parents, guardians and grandparents about what their children and grandchildren do after school. They might be able to tell you about good programs in the area.
4. Call or email your local child care resource and referral office. They will know a number of afterschool programs in your area. Also visit www.childcareaware.org.
5. Afterschool is often part of larger programs. They can be found at community centers, settlement houses, community learning centers, full-service schools, museums and libraries. Look for programs called Lighted Schools, Beacons, Extended Learning Centers and Supplemental Educational Services. Community arts councils and youth employment programs also might be offering programs after school.
Are you an afterschool provider? No matter how stellar your program is, no one will know if they can't find it. Be sure to register or list your program with your local child care resource and referral service, and with the social services information and referral service. Brainstorm other places people might look for afterschool programs, such as city, school district and state education agency websites, and see if you can list your program there.
What If There Is No Afterschool Program in Your Community?
Don’t give up. Many afterschool programs have been created by residents and parents in partnership with schools, organizations and other concerned individuals. Just think: if you are interested in a high quality afterschool program for children, there must be many others who are also interested. There are people near you—at places such as the library, police stations, community centers and foundations — that can help. 9 out of 10 Americans, whether they have children or not, agree that all kids should have access to afterschool programs. Here are some steps you can take to get one started in your community:
Talk to parents, guardians, grandparents and concerned neighbors. Find out if others in your community are interested in having afterschool programs. Working in larger numbers gives you greater strength and influence.
- Check out our tools on starting an afterschool program.
- Ask your neighbors and friends.
- Place a notice in your school’s parent bulletin, send an email to a parents' listserv, or ask teachers to place flyers in each child’s backpack. The notice can ask parents if they are interested in afterschool programs for their children and whether they are willing to help organize such programs.
- Attend a PTA meeting and ask participants if they are concerned about the after school hours.
- Build a list of the individuals who are interested in having afterschool programs.
- Document your need.
Talk to your school principal and/or teachers. Principals often control the use of school facilities and equipment after school. School teachers and the principal can also be a great help in getting people together to start an afterschool program. Ask for ideas and help on starting a program, and tell them about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
Contact other people in your community who might help. Call any or all of the people listed here for guidance on finding or starting an afterschool program. Start with: local police, the mayor, city councillors, local YMCAs, the parks & recreation director, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H staff, Urban League, Cooperative Extension Service, labor organizations, arts organizations and museums, PTAs, the local chapter of NAACP and La Raza, local businesses, libraries, community centers, and local churches, synagogues and mosques. Ask each person if they could contribute ideas, time or money to help start an afterschool program in your community.
Call a meeting of the parents and other individuals who are interested in starting an afterschool program. Your list might include educators, local police, organizations that work with children, local businesses and elected officials. Use the information on this website as a basis of discussion. Talk about the benefits to the community and to families of a high-quality afterschool program. Assign people at the meeting to complete tasks such as:
- assessing the community’s afterschool needs and the resources that may be available to create afterschool programs that help meet those needs;
- talking to elected officials about obtaining financial support for the program;
- finding out how other communities got afterschool programs started;
- talking with teachers about activities that might be offered in the program;
- copying and distributing the Afterschool Resource Booklet to everyone interested; and
- developing a fundraising plan.