After-School Activities

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How to Find a Quality Program

Once you narrow down the type of care you are looking for, the next step is to find a suitable program. Following are some common ways to get information about programs available in your community. When you visit potential sites, take your child with you, if possible. Then talk with her about the options you have. She may prefer one program to another because her friends go there or because she likes the staff or the range of activities better.

  • Schools/school districts. Your child's principal is an excellent resource. He or she will be acquainted with the range of programs available to students. The school district office may also be a good resource for area programs.
  • Other parents. Word of mouth among parents can be very valuable. Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers and the parents of your children's friends about programs or sitters they have used. Find out which they liked and which they disliked -- and why.
  • Local government. Many community government offices have child care departments that maintain lists of local licensed child care providers.
  • Libraries. Some community libraries keep files on child care programs in the area, or keep lists of local babysitters. Ask the reference librarian to point you toward this information.
  • Child care resource and referral services. These services help match families with child care providers in the area. Some employers provide access to a resource and referral service as an employee benefit. If yours doesn't, try looking in the Yellow Pages under "child care," "school," or "day care." Make sure to find out, up front, if there are charges for the referral service.

Continued on page 3:  Checklist for Parents


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