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:
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?
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?
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.