Afterschool programs not only provide children with enriching activities and structure once the school day has ended, but they also enable families to maintain normal workdays. The average workday is from 9 am to 5 pm. Most school days end around 3 pm, and sometimes much earlier. This two-hour gap creates a significant demand for child care, which afterschool programs have met.
As the American workforce continues to grow, the demand for afterschool programs will too. Understanding the best practices of running an afterschool program is essential, whether you are a professional looking to start your own afterschool program or a seasoned expert with an established program. This guide will answer the question of how to run a successful afterschool program, including everything from founding to daily operations. Let's dive in!
Starting an Afterschool Program
Starting an afterschool program is the dream of many young child care professionals. It can also be a profitable venture for a daycare director. However, it's a move that requires a lot of thought and planning. Having a solid foundation will enable you to make an informed decision on the matter.
1. Conducting Research
The first stage of starting an afterschool program is determining whether it's a feasible venture. Child care is indeed an essential service, but that doesn't mean it will always be profitable. Many other factors will influence the success of your afterschool program. Here's everything to research before starting an afterschool program.
- Is there a demand for an afterschool program in the area?
- What commercial space is available to house an afterschool program?
- How will you staff your afterschool program? (i.e., are there enough child care professionals in the area?)
- Can you work with local businesses to offer collaborative services?
- How large is the school district?
- Can you offer something unique in your afterschool program? (Ie. Bilingual homework tutors, computer programming classes, etc.)
Ideally, your afterschool program will fulfill a significant childcare demand in the area and offer a unique edge over current competition. If you fulfill all these requirements, you'll have a solid foundation to launch from.
2. Planning Your Afterschool Program
Once you are confident in your afterschool program's chances of success, you can move forward with the project. Now is the time to begin planning the key components of your program. This can also serve as a starter for your business plan or proposal that you may share with private and public investors. Here are some details to attend to during this stage.
- Core values, mission or objective statement.
- Program design, including staffing, location, administration, transportation and more.
- Policies and procedures.
- Legalities (licensing, insurance, reporting and more).
Handling the startup costs of any business is challenging. With a strict and accurate budget, you can ensure that your afterschool program enjoys continued success in the long-term. If you already have a daycare, adding an afterschool program won't be as expensive as someone starting from scratch. However, you'll need to create a budget, as well.
To ensure that your budget is accurate, you'll need to research the startup costs related to your business, many of which will vary by location. Here are some startup costs to consider:
Location (purchase or rent).
Third-party professional fees (lawyers, construction, printing, etc.).
Licensing and permits fees.
Don't forget to find an answer to the question, "How much does it cost to run an afterschool program." Don't just focus on startup costs. The daily related operating costs shouldn't be overlooked. Here' are some operating costs to budget for:
- Third-party vendors and services.
Run a Successful Afterschool Program
Starting a successful afterschool program is hard, but managing one is an even more challenging task. Fortunately, there are a few very simple tips that will ensure your afterschool program's success.
Establish Strong Policies
These guiding principles and protocols are the foundation of any successful afterschool program. Being proactive when it comes to addressing the potential situations that arise when running an afterschool program can help you avoid costly missteps in the future.
Be sure that all staff is provided with a copy of the afterschool program's policies and procedures. It’s essential all staff are aware of these policies, so be sure to hold regular meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Provide Ongoing Training
Child care best practices are consistently evolving. You and your staff need to keep up with new trends and supporting research to ensure you provide the best care.
Don't grow stagnant and fall behind the competition. You'll need to ensure that staff feels empowered and encouraged to continue their training and education. Not only does this provide a competitive edge for your afterschool program, but it means you'll be employing experts in the field. Consider offering benefits, such as bonuses for staff who complete training programs or gain advanced child care degrees.
Communication is the key to success for any collaborative project, and nothing requires a more collaborative effort than providing child care. An afterschool program works in collaboration with a child's school staff, family, coaches and more to provide the best care possible. Keeping the lines of communication open between all parties can ensure the child benefits from consistent care.
Your staffing can help you achieve effective communication. Hiring an experienced front office manager and secretary can ensure all communication is promptly addressed.
Choosing the Right Child Care Management Software
As the founder of an afterschool program, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the essential tasks and duties that come with managing a program. That's why an efficient and powerful child care management system is vital to your afterschool program's success.
The right child care management software can support your business's success by streamlining all the administrative tasks of an afterschool program.
Vanco's Smartcare software is one of the leading child care management software systems. Everything from scheduling staff to managing payments from parents is easy with the Vanco's Smartcare.
Explore the advantages of Vanco's Smartcare Platform. Request a demo today!