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How to Create and Sustain an Exceptional Before and After School Care Program 

A Step-by-Step Guide for OST Program Providers with Tips and Strategies on How to Start and Improve a Before and After School Program.

Shockingly, a study by the Afterschool Alliance found that 11.3 million children are on their own after school without adult supervision. And considering that the hours between 3-6pm are the peak time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol and other at-risk activities.

That (along with many other reasons) makes before and after school programs a critical part of a comprehensive education system. 📚

Your programs provide students with a safe and supportive environment in which to learn and grow. But they’re not always easy to establish, manage, or maintain year after year.

Don't worry, we're here to help!

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In this guide, we provide school districts, YMCA’s, camps, and enrichment programs with a roadmap for improving before and after school programs, using the latest research, best practices, and real-world examples. We'll explore strategies for securing funding, recruiting and retaining qualified staff, engaging families and communities️, and designing programs that meet the diverse needs of your students.

Whether you're just starting out with enrichment programs, or looking to enhance and expand your existing offerings, this guide will provide you with the tools and resources you need to create high-quality programs that make a positive impact on the lives of your students.

So, let's get started! 💪


how to create and sustain an exceptional before & after school program
how to create and sustain an exceptional before & after school program

Explore This Essential Data About Your Before or After School Program 

Here are some of the biggest statistics about before and after school care programs:

  • According to the Afterschool Alliance, 25%  of all K-12 students in the United States are enrolled in some form of before or after school care program.
  • The same report found that the demand for after school programs is even higher, with 19.4 million students who would participate in an after school program if one were available to them.
  • A study by the RAND Corporation 

    found that students who participate in after school programs have better academic outcomes, with improved grades and test scores.

  • The National After School Association reports that after school programs also have a positive impact on social and emotional development with students exhibiting higher levels of self-esteem and fewer behavioral problems.
  • Students who attend after school programs are also less likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, according to the Afterschool Alliance.
  • Before and after school programs can also provide much-needed suport to working parents. In fact, a survey by the Afterschool Alliance found that 71% of parents with childcare in after school programs help them keep their job.

  • Research also suggests that before and after school programs can contribute to narrowing the achievement gap, particularly for low-income students who may not have access to other resources, according to a report by the Wallace Foundation.

These statistics show just how crucial before and after school care programs are for students, and why it's essential to keep supporting them. By continuing to invest and refine these programs, we can ensure that all students have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive and succeed.

how to create and sustain an exceptional before and after school program
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Discover the Hurdles: Obstacles Faced By Before & After School Programs

When it comes to before or after school care, you have your fair share of challenges.

  • Lack of funding
  • Staffing shortages
  • Limited resources
  • Lack of participation
  • Difficulty coordinating with other programs
  • Trouble meeting diverse student needs
  • Challenges while trying to ensure quality and accountability

But with careful planning, coordination, and ongoing evaluation, your program can rise to these challenges and make a positive impact on the academic and personal growth of your students.

8 Effective Strategies to Enhance Your Before & After School Programs

Get 8 effective strategies to enhance your before & after school programs and benefit your students.

Before and after school programs can be incredibly valuable for students, providing them with opportunities to learn, grow, and socialize outside of the traditional classroom setting.

However, designing and implementing an effective enrichment program can be a challenge. Let's explore some tips and strategies to help you improve your before or after school program and make it a success:

how to create and sustain an exceptional before and after school program
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1) Set clear goals and objectives.

Before designing your before or after school program, take the time to define your goals and objectives.

  • What do you want students to achieve?
  • What skills or knowledge do you want them to develop?

By setting clear goals, you can focus your program on the areas that matter most and ensure that you are providing meaningful experiences for your students.

2) Evaluate your program regularly.

Regular evaluation is essential for ensuring that your before or after school program is meeting your goals and objectives.

Take the time to gather feedback from students, parents, and staff members and use this feedback to make changes and improvements as needed.

3) Offer a variety of activities.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your before or after school program is to offer a variety of activities that appeal to different interests and learning styles.

Activity Ideas:

  • Sports
  • Arts and crafts
  • Academic enrichment
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4) Foster a positive and inclusive environment.

A positive and inclusive environment is key to the success of any before or after school program. Make sure that all students feel welcome and valued, and encourage them to treat each other with respect and kindness. This can help to create a supportive and nurturing community that will benefit all students.

5) Focus on skill-building.

After school programs can be a great opportunity for students to develop new skills and interests.

Ideas for new skills:

  • Learning to code
  • Playing an instrument
  • Practicing public speaking
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6) Build partnerships with local organizations.

Building partnerships with local organizations can be a great way to enhance your before or after school program.

Examples of local partnership opportunities:

  • Local sports team
  • Museum
  • Community center

These partnerships can provide unique opportunities and experiences for your students.

7) Communicate regularly with parents.

Regular communication with parents is essential for the success of any before or after school program.

Make sure parents are informed about:

  • Upcoming events or theme days
  • Activities and skill-building opportunities
  • Their child's progress
  • Their child's levels of participation


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how to create and sustain an exceptional before and after school program (6)

8) Provide opportunities for leadership and responsibility.

Providing opportunities for leadership and responsibility can be a great way to help students develop important skills and take ownership of their learning.

Ideas for student leadership opportunities:

  • Student-led clubs
  • Acting as the line leader
  • Passing out the afternoon snack
  • Taking inventory of the game closet

Provide opportunities for students to take on meaningful roles and responsibilities.

Improving your before or after school care program requires careful planning, regular evaluation, and a commitment to providing diverse, engaging, and meaningful experiences for your students. By following these tips and strategies, you can create a program that truly makes a difference in the lives of your students.

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Take Advantage of Tools That Can Make Yours and Your Staff’s Lives Easier

Take advantage of tools that can make your and your staff’s lives easier.

Before and after school programs can use software to register and retain families in a number of ways.

  • Online registration
  • Email marketing
  • Payment processing
  • Student information management
  • Subsidy & discount management
  • Attendance tracking

Online Registration

Don't waste time on registration paperwork. Digital forms make registration convenient for your staff and families. With paper enrollment packets, families sometimes have to reenter their information up to 9 times.

Minimize the hassle with pre-filled form information - saved and populated from a family's record in LineLeader. Families save countless hours. Plus, eliminate chasing down missing paperwork or information. Use required fields to capture all necessary information.

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Email Marketing

Build and manage email marketing campaigns for all your sites and ensure every family is nurtured until they enroll. Administrators can quickly build and save branded email templates for inquiry follow-ups, weekly announcements, monthly newsletters, and more - with your logos, colors, and fonts. Plus, add personalization keys like a guardian's first name, school name, or their child's name with ease.

Student Information Management

student information management


You and your staff have a lot of information to manage. But binders, spiral notebooks, and spreadsheets just don’t cut it. Give caregivers the information they need at their fingertips. You, your on-site staff, and your families can all rely on just one central hub to review, manage, and update student information, including health data, attendance records, payment invoices, subsidy details, and more.

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Attendance Tracking

Simplify the way staff monitor attendance. Ditch the binders and notebooks in favor of a mobile app or online portal that allows them to record name-to-face checks.

Plus, give families the option to let staff know when they’re on their way at pick-up time and check-out through a secure mobile app. Plus, view historical attendance and download reports in just a few clicks.  

Payment Processing

Stop wasting valuable time by automatically collecting tuition and fees.

Offer a convenient option for parents to pay when they want, how they want.

Easily send, store, and organize invoices in one place. Plus, automate late fee reminders to parents or simply never miss a payment with autopay.

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Subsidy & Discount Management

Effortlessly grant subsidy funds and provide discounts to families. Manage invoices, establish recurring plans, and track finances.

Ensure proper funding to avoid decreased profits and enrollment gaps. Plus, multi-site programs can oversee multiple subsidies and maintain compliance with ease.

Find a reliable tool that fits your unique business needs. 

In conclusion, before and after school programs can use a variety of software tools and platforms to register new families and manage student information more efficiently. By leveraging these tools, programs can streamline their registration processes, reach new families more effectively, and provide a more convenient and user-friendly experience for both staff and families.

But as you look for the RIGHT software to help you accelerate your program’s growth, streamline your administration, and keep up with important child and family information - consider looking for a solution that offers the following:

  • Parent Led Registration: Parents control the registration experience, seamlessly selecting the programs they want their child to sign up for & making payment.​
  • Classroom Booking & Management: Easily manage classes, programs, camps, electives within LineLeader Manage. Quickly identify who is enrolled and how many spaces are left to fill, while never over-enrolling a program.​
  • Punch Cards: Purchase a set number of days to attend, staff can easily manage attendance through prepaid punches.​
  • Subsidy & Discount Management: Setup and configure subsidies, discounts, & coupon codes, all which tie directly into classes & programs you’re offering.​
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Simplify the way you run your Before & After School program.

LineLeader is a US-based, unified software solution for before & after school operators.

The comprehensive, cloud-based platform includes CRM and marketing automation to drive enrollment, digital forms to streamline the registration process, parent-led registration to book programs, a management system to improve center operations, seamless online payments, and a mobile application to engage with families.​

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Additional Resources

For more information on specific childcare resources regarding marketing tools, campaigns, tips, and best practices - see below.

1. Learn hidden secrets no one tells you about starting a childcare business.


2. See how to operate in childcare licensing excellence to boost enrollment.


3. Beth Fiori of Tiny Treasures provides expert tips. check out ways to improve your business plan for daycare with enhanced waitlist management.

4. Discover tips to maintain the best childcare center on the block.


5. Gain advice for strengthening your daycare staff culture. 


6. Learn the benefits of building a daycare business plan, at a glance. 

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