How to Become an After School Program Manager

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Are you interested in becoming an after school program manager?

Effective before and after school programs offer significant benefits to the kids who participate, their families and the community as a whole. After school programs have been shown to improve academic performance and achievement, promote physical health, enhance skill development and improve emotional regulation in kids.

After school program managers are the driving force behind these programs. They combine experience in child care work with strong managerial and administrative skill sets to ensure that after school programs meet their objectives and provide high-quality, transformative programming.

If you’re excited by the opportunity to manage a dedicated team of child care professionals that can make a huge impact on child development, a career path into after school program management could be the best option for you.

To help you get started, we’ve put together this resource with our best tips and advice on how to become an after school program manager in 2020.

Procare is here to help.

We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.

What is an After School Program Manager?

After school program managers are management professionals who coordinate daily operations, organize programming and activities, and perform administrative duties for after school programs. 

After school program managers are typically employed by school districts that provide academic support and enrichment activities through government-subsidized after school programming, or by private recreation centers that operate for-profit after school programs in their communities. They can support a variety of different focuses, including art, music, science, languages, academic support, and sports and recreation, depending on the needs of children in the area.

As an after school program manager, your professional duties are likely to include:

  • Leading the development of high-quality after school programming and activities that educate kids and provide enrichment opportunities.
  • Hiring and training staff members to effectively deliver on program objectives.
  • Scheduling and supervising after school program staff and holding team members accountable to key policies, organizational objectives and best practices.
  • Coordinating after school program marketing efforts across multiple channels and connecting with interested families to drive enrollment.
  • Engaging with parents to build community support for your program and enhance learning outcomes for kids.
  • Creating and updating records for each child who participates in your programs.
  • Reporting on attendance, engagement and overall impact of your after school program.
  • Routine administrative duties, such as invoicing, billing, payroll, attendance tracking, and communicating with staff and families.
  • Managing a program budget and providing team members with the resources they need to deliver the curriculum and meet learning objectives.

According to Zip Recruiter, after school program managers employed in the United States earn an average salary of $37,279 per year, with the top earners bringing home as much as $55,000 or more. In many cases, child care providers and after school program assistants can double or even triple their earned salaries by moving into a role as an after school program manager.

While the majority of after school program manager jobs are heavily administrative, some smaller programs do require program managers to supervise kids and assist with program delivery and activities. The best after school program managers combine excellent management and administrative skills with a genuine enthusiasm for going hands-on and supporting the learning process.

How to Become an After School Program Manager

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in a Related Field

Most after school program manager job postings ask for at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to education. Many job postings don’t require this, but having a college degree on your resume is still a great way to differentiate yourself from other candidates and give yourself an advantage going into the interview process.

If your goal is to manage after school programs, consider pursuing a college degree program in one of the following areas:

  • Education
  • Early Childhood Development & Teaching
  • Child Developmental and Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Business Administration
  • Business Accounting & Financial Management

Gain Experience Working with Kids

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To become an after school program manager, you’ll need to gain experience working with kids in either an educational or a child care setting. We recommend developing your career by taking on other child-focused roles before you become an after school program manager. Some of the best options include:

  • Working as a teacher’s aide to organize resources and help teachers plan and implement activities for kids.
  • Working as a camp counselor or director to coordinate and lead activities for campers.
  • Working directly with kids in an after school program as a volunteer, program teacher or recreation coordinator.
  • Volunteering as a coach and helping kids develop skills and passion for your favorite sport.

Develop Business Management Skills

In addition to experience working with kids, employers are looking for after school program managers with a strong background in business administration and leadership. The most highly-valued management skills are directly connected to your duties as an after school program manager, including:

  • Business Administration – Managing daily operations, licensing and reporting requirements, and routine administrative tasks for your program.
  • Customer Service and Relationship Management – Building strong relationships with parents, families and community stakeholders to support enrollment and program success.
  • Budgeting and Finance – Managing program finances to ensure adequate cash flow, budgeting for anticipated costs and program activities, and meeting targets for revenue and profitability.
  • Communication – Communicating appropriately and maintaining a consistent flow of updates and information for staff and families.
  • Leadership – Establishing a strong organizational vision and culture, hiring and training staff members in that culture, and motivating your team to work together to achieve a common goal.
  • Technology – Using digital technologies to communicate with families and manage program activities and administrative requirements.

Build Your Resume

Before you can start applying for after school program manager jobs, you’ll need to create a strong resume that showcases your knowledge, skills, experiences and qualifications. 

Be sure to include your relevant work history, list any certifications or professional credentials that you have earned, and describe any specialized skills you have acquired along the way. Include any relevant job experience and provide professional references who will vouch for your knowledge and skills.

You should also consider updating your web presence and social media profiles, as many employers will check online for more information about you before setting up an interview.

Apply for After School Program Manager Roles

Once you’ve earned the necessary qualifications and updated your after school program manager resume, it’s time to start applying for jobs. You can check online job boards for new opportunities or inquire in person at an after school program in your area. 

When applying for jobs, spend time customizing your resume and application for each job posting. Look at the specific skills and qualities that each employer wants, then tailor your resume to make those skills and qualities stand out. 

During the interview process, be prepared to deal with behavior-response questions. The interviewer will ask you about a time in the past where you demonstrated a specific skill or quality, such as leadership, communication, empathy, etc. You’ll need to provide one or more specific examples of how you have effectively demonstrated those skills to solve a problem during your career. We’d recommend keeping a professional development journal and documenting these incidents so you can review them later and talk about them in interviews.

You might have to send out many applications before you get hired, but it’s important to be persistent and continue your search to find the after school program manager position that’s right for you. 

How to Excel as an After School Program Manager

Getting hired as an after school program manager is a major cause for excitement – but it’s only the first step in the journey. 

In your new role, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to leverage your personal skills and experiences to improve your program and enhance outcomes for kids, families and the communities. Here’s how you can take action to excel as an after school program manager.

Continue Your Education

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As an after school program manager, you can excel in your profession by embracing opportunities for continuing education. Taking additional courses gives you the opportunity to discover new perspectives and best practices that will inform how you address the needs of kids in your program.

After school program managers should consider taking courses in:

  • Conflict management and dispute resolution
  • Positive discipline
  • Education leadership
  • Sales and marketing
  • Languages
  • Cultural diversity in learning and education

Work Closely with Local School Administrators

After school program managers should strive to build strong connections with local school administrators. School administrators can refer students to your program who are genuinely interested in the activities and programming you offer. They can also help kids in your program get connected to vital community resources, such as housing and financial assistance, and nutrition programs.

When after school programs work collaboratively with school administrators and the community, more opportunities are created to connect kids with the resources and support they need to be successful.

Focus on Parent Engagement

Research has shown that getting parents involved in after school programs can have numerous positive benefits, including improved academic performance and developmental outcomes for kids. After school program managers can focus on parent engagement by:

  • Collecting feedback from parents on program implementation and opportunities for improvement.
  • Building trusting 1-to-1 relationships with parents through consistent and positive communications.
  • Hiring family-friendly staff who can effectively engage, network and communicate with families.
  • Training staff on how to appropriately communicate with parents and get them involved with their child’s learning.
  • Connecting families with community resources and other organizations that support early childhood learning and developmental outcomes.
  • Keeping parents informed about upcoming events, activities and learning opportunities with a weekly or monthly newsletter, or by using mass communications.

Adopt Digital Program Management Solutions

One of the best ways to maximize your resources and increase your impact as an after school program manager is to adopt digital program management solutions. Many after school programs are still relying on paper-based management methods, so there’s a huge opportunity to save time and increase management efficiency through digital modernization.

Educators are increasingly using digital tools, software and technologies to automate routine administrative tasks, streamline and track communication with parents, and implement paperless recordkeeping for lesson plans, attendance tracking and more. These tools are cost-effective, easy to implement, and can save hours of time and effort for you and your staff every week.

Digitize Program Management with Procare Solutions

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With over 30 years in the business of child care, Procare Solutions provides after school management software that helps you digitize operations, save time and drive innovation for your after school program. 

With Procare Solutions, you’ll be able to:

  • Create lesson plans and design new activities to support learning objectives within your program. 
  • Save your most effective lessons and activities to re-use them later, or share them with other educators to maximize their impact.
  • Enable contactless check-in/out as well as easily track child attendance and activity participation on our paperless platform.
  • Build one-to-one relationships with parents through our parent engagement app.
  • Send mass communications to families and the program community.
  • Create weekly or monthly newsletters to share upcoming events and special activities with parents.
  • Maintain your program schedule on a digital calendar that’s accessible for parents.
  • Automate billing and tuition collection to ensure on-time payments.

As an after school program manager, digitizing your routine administrative tasks with Procare Solutions saves you hours of time each week that you can use to develop programming, connect with parents, and find new ways to help kids reach their full potential.

Learn More

Jan Gilboy

About The Author

Jan Gilboy

Jan Gilboy heads up Enterprise Sales at Procare, working with school districts and other large OST providers to help them streamline and automate their community education and after school programs. Her passion lies in helping to support these providers so that they can focus on enrichment, outcomes and the safety of the children in their care.

Procare is here to help.

We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.