Starting a successful after-school program offers an important service to working parents and their children. A high-quality after-school program provides a safe, nurturing environment for school age children by offering activities and homework help while fostering safe social interactions. To start a successful after-school program, you’ll need strategies and tools including these six steps for getting started:
1. Secure a Designated Space
When choosing the location for your after-school program, keep travel and convenience in mind. Consider securing a location that’s close to the school system where prospective students are enrolled and conveniently accessible to parents. Affordable options include schools, local libraries, churches, or recreation centers.
2. Create a Business Plan
Make sure that you do your homework. Research the market you’re entering, including competing after-school programs and their curriculum. This will give you a foundation in order to build a business plan based on the community’s needs. Local parents can be a great resource for ideas and information about what they value in an after-school program.
3. Build Curriculum
You’ll need to create a diverse set of curriculum options to appeal to different age-groups, including academic and recreational enrichment activities. Start with the basics like art, music, math, and science. You can then supplement with homework help, recreational activities and plenty of free time to let the kids in your care burn off steam as needed. Parents also value enhanced and differentiated programs such as martial arts, foreign languages, cooking classes and STEM activities. Unique class offerings can differentiate your after-school program from competitors.
4. Hire Qualified Staff
Hiring qualified and passionate staff is critical to help parents feel confident that their child is receiving outstanding care as well as help you build and maintain enrollment. As you search for educators for your program, consider targeting teachers and other staff at elementary schools who may be seeking additional after-hours work. Since many of these individuals already have relationships with local families and they are already employed in schools, you can be confident they’ll greatly enhance your enrichment program. You will also need to ensure your after-school program is properly licensed and satisfies regulations. These may vary from state to state, so research the specific requirements for your state. For example, you must comply with student-to-teacher ratios, and any program not run by a school or school district, or that cares for seven or more children under the age of 13, must obtain a school-age child care (SACC) license.
5. Utilize Technology to Simplify Processes
Operating a successful after-school program requires juggling many responsibilities that often compromise your primary focus of caring for students. Utilizing after-school management software simplifies time-consuming tasks such as collecting tuition, registering children, managing wait lists, processing employee time cards, and tracking attendance. By simplifying operations with after-school management software, your staff can focus on fostering a caring environment that promotes students’ growth, rather than worrying about paperwork and administrative tasks.
6. Maintain a Safe and Secure Environment
After-school programs are meant to provide a secure place for children when school is not in session so ensuring your students’ safety is priority number one. Security solutions such as keyless entry, secure door controllers, and fingerprint pads for electronic check-in help prevent unauthorized entry. They also help you monitor which individuals entered secure areas so you can take appropriate measures to tighten security controls if necessary.
According to The Afterschool Alliance, “Support for afterschool is overwhelming and demand is growing. Nationwide, 9 in 10 adults say afterschool programs are important to their community—and more than 19 million kids are waiting to get in”
Starting an after-school program doesn’t need to be overwhelming. By following the 6 steps, you can create a realistic plan that leads to business success. If you would like to learn how procare software’s management system can help, please request a demo