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Child Care: Before and After School Center-Based Care


What is before and after school center-based care?

Before and after school care is generally for children 6 to 12 years of age. Programs offer age-appropriate activities in the hours before and after school. Care is also provided holidays, school breaks, and vacations. Center-based care may be in a day care center, park and recreation department, church, or youth group such as boys and girls clubs.

Ask the child care provider:

  • Is the child care center licensed? Is the licensing permit current?
  • What are the tuition payments? When are they due?
  • What are the hours? Holiday and vacation schedule?
  • Is an upfront registration fee required? What are admission requirements?
  • Are there extra charges for such things as meals, transportation, or late pick-ups?
  • Are fees reduced if more than one child enrolls?
  • Is financial assistance available?
  • Is safe transportation provided to and from school?

Observe or ask about:

Facility

Does the facility have:

  • carpeting, pads, and drapery to absorb noise?
  • ample toys and art materials?
  • plenty of indoor and outdoor space?
  • special areas for quiet and active play?
  • safe, creative outdoor play equipment?
  • a quiet place for homework?
  • places to practice hobbies, sports, music, or dance?

Staff

Does the staff:

  • welcome my questions and suggestions?
  • share my childrearing philosophy?
  • take time to share my child's experiences with me?
  • really listen and talk to the children?
  • have low turnover?
  • sensitively handle feelings of fear, shyness, upset, and anger?
  • respect each child's unique background and interests?
  • guide rather than direct behavior?
  • seem cheerful, affectionate, and warm?
  • have training and experience in early child education?
  • handle discipline positively?
  • set and consistently maintain limits?

Program

Does the program:

  • provide daily outdoor activities?
  • balance active, physical activities with quiet, restful ones?
  • prohibit play that could quickly get out of hand?
  • have enough staff to take care of children on the playground?
  • patiently encourage children to solve problems on their own?
  • show children how to help themselves as much as possible?
  • balance individual, small group, and large group activities?
  • allow children to pursue some activities without being disturbed by others?
  • provide plenty of time for children to complete their projects?
  • foster curiosity through opportunities to see new things and try out new ideas?
  • balance structured and unstructured activities?

Health and Safety

  • Is each child required to have an up-to-date immunization record?
  • Does the facility meet state standards for how many children can be taken care of by one adult?
  • Are staff and children taught to wash hands with soap and water after diaper changes or contact with body fluids?
  • What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
  • What are the policies regarding illness? (for example, are parents contacted if another child has a contagious disease? )
  • Is the staff trained in first aid and CPR for children?
  • Are important phone numbers posted near the phone? (Examples include police, fire, poison control center, hospital, children's physician, ambulance.)
  • Does the facility have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?
  • Does my caregiver always know how to get in touch with both parents?
  • Does my child receive appropriate supervision?
  • Can all doors in the center be opened from the outside at all times?
  • Do all glass doors have decals?
  • Are the rooms well ventilated and comfortable year-round?
  • Are the bathroom facilities clean and easily accessible to children?
  • Are stairways and walkways free from clutter?
  • Are small, sharp, or otherwise dangerous items out of reach or locked in a cupboard, drawer, or cabinet? (Examples include pins, thumbtacks, paper clips, matches, lighters, knives, plastic bags, scissors, guns, razor blades, glassware, working appliances.)
  • Are poisonous items stored out of reach or locked in cupboards, drawers, or cabinets? (Examples include cleaning products, polish, bleach, medicines, cosmetics, perfumes, aerosol cans, and first aid supplies.)
  • Are floors free from spills, slippery surfaces, or small throw rugs?
  • Are toys safe, clean, and in good repair?
  • Are play surfaces, indoors and out, softened with carpeting or wood chips?
  • Do children seem safe with one another?
  • Is the outdoor area fenced and free of hazards?
  • Is the play equipment safe and appropriate for each child's level of development?

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-28
Last reviewed: 2009-05-26

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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