Parents & Families
Parents are critical partners in shaping and promoting quality after-school programming.
As the lead organization in providing research, materials, technical assistance and training for school-age in Georgia, GSACA encourages parents and families to become involved in understanding, selecting and supporting quality school-age programs.
Why are school-age programs important?
Non-school hours represent the single largest block of time in the lives of children and youth. Research shows that children in after-school programs are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and use drugs, and, you as a parent, will be more productive at work when you know that your children are safe and involved in productive programming.
Why should you select the highest possible quality of programming for your children?
Children’s participation in organized quality after-school programs has positive impacts on educational achievement, physical well-being and emotional and social development.
“Quality school- age care is not only important to allow working parents to work, but it also supports children’s development and keeps them safe during their after school hours. Having children in quality after school care provides structure. Children who attend quality programs have better grades, peer relations, emotional adjustment and conduct in school. They spend more time engaged in academic or enrichment activities, and less time watching television.
Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies across the state see the need and demand for more quality programs. Training and technical assistance to these programs is crucial to enhancing the professionalism of our school age providers.”
Pam Runkle, Executive Director
Quality Care for Children
How do I go about choosing the highest-quality school-age provider for my children?
- Make time. Finding the right school-age option for you, your child and your family will take time.
- Make calls. Do your homework. Make use of free local referral services to locate prospective school-age providers in your area. (See Child Care Resource and Referral organization in your region as provided below.) Be sure to find out whether the providers on your list have had any licensing issues.
- Make a visit. Make at least one personal visit to each facility you are considering. While you’re there, observe the caregivers, other staff and children carefully.
- Make a commitment. You and your chosen school-age provider are partners in the welfare of your child.
- Stay involved. The moment you choose a school-age provider, an ongoing relationship begins. Communicate with and meet your child care provider regularly.
- Continue to evaluate. Needs, desires and goals will change as your child develops and as your family grows.
How do I know what questions to ask a prospective school-age provider and how will I know when a program is high quality?
Use this list of questions to help focus your evaluation of prospective providers:
- What is the staff-to-child ratio?
- How much staff turnover is there?
- Are staff members caring and responsive?
- Are caregivers friendly?
- What is a typical daily schedule? What are the daily routines? How are the children involved?
- Are children encouraged to explore their environment and make choices in their daily activities?
- Are children offered a balanced mix of group versus one-on-one learning and play activities?
- What are the discipline policies and how is behavior managed?
- How often are the children taken outdoors?
- Does the staff follow everyday routines so that the children feel safe and secure in a structured environment?
- Do you hear the sounds and see the faces of happy children?
- Are there displays of artwork and projects that show what the children are doing and learning?
- Are nutritious meals and snacks provided? Are the menus posted daily?
Education and Accountability
- Is the program committed to solid educational principles?
- Is the program licensed?
- May I see a copy of your license, accreditation certificates and inspection reports?
- Have there been any licensing or accreditation issues in the facility’s history?
- Do teacher-to-child ratios meet or exceed state requirements?
- What formal qualifications, training and experience does staff have?
- Are thorough background and reference checks performed for all staff?
- Does staff receive continuing education and training?
- Do parents receive feedback about their children?
- Are surprise visits, input and participation from parents encouraged?
- Is there an open-door policy that allows parents to communicate with staff?
- Is there frequent communication with parents about their child’s learning experiences?
- Do parents receive on an ongoing basis information packages announcing upcoming schedules, events and curriculum plans?
Safety and Security
- Are adequate safety standards being met?
- Are all caregivers trained in CPR, first aid and emergency preparedness?
- Is there soap at every sink and are hands washed before eating and after bathroom breaks?
- Is there a safe outdoor play area?
- Is the building safe, clean and well-maintained?
- Are the entrances secured?
- Is there a strictly enforced policy in place for releasing children?
- Is there a safety plan in effect for emergency procedures?
- Do the premises appear safe, clean and friendly and offer secure, well-maintained outside space?
Convenience and Affordability
- What is the location of the facility?
- Does the program provide year round services including holiday and summer, or if not, do they have arrangements for such coverage through a nearby partner program?
- What are the hours of operation?
- How flexible are pickup and drop-off times?
- Are the tuition fees, fee schedule and payment plan within the family’s budget or means?
Now that I’ve selected a program, how can I support continued quality improvement efforts for the benefit of my children and others?
There are a number of ways you can support quality improvement in the programs where your children attend. Specific ways parents/guardians can contribute to improving the quality of the programs are:
- Stay involved. Volunteer your time to support the classroom, staff and community service components of the program.
- Provide positive feedback to programs. Let staff know what activities your children enjoy, …….
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