Guest Post by Akira German, Founder/ Program Director at Ever Rise Youth Programs, LLC.
At this moment a parent somewhere is wondering where to send their child after school. And let’s face it, the options are scarce: you have the overly-priced and nationally recognized childcare centers, a family members home, the home childcare nearby, or even the child can become a latchkey kid.
Why not have their children in your Child Care program? Before and Aftercare programs can seem a bit intimidating to get started but, with strategic planning and execution; it can be a fun and profitable venture.
First, consider the different kinds of before and after-care customers or parents you would like to cater to.
Everyone is looking for something different so figure out what areas are best for you.
Of course you can’t be everything to everybody so never hesitate to say “This program may not be the best fit for you.”
I had a couple that wanted me to drill their poor kid consistently in math and English, even after several hours of school, providing no breaks, socialization or even educational games; just drills and correction. This is simply not my thing so I had to let them walk.
Please note that before and after-care customers typically fall in one or more of the following categories:
- Parents who want before/after-care simply because they are working
- Parents who need care because family ARE available but would rather have enrichment activities
- Parents who speak English as a second language and need assistance helping their children with daily homework assignments
- Parents who want tutoring and enrichment with the sole purpose of bringing up the child’s grades
- Parents who have children who are excelling and want them stay ahead of the status quo in school
It is important to know which customer you are dealing with so you can cater to their interest. Each parent will look for different qualities in your program.
What about Before/After-care space options?
Where will you care for the school age children? Do you have space in your existing facility where they can have quite time? Older children can get easily distracted by the parents entering the facility and babies crying, they would need their own space. Consider local schools that may have free space for a few hours and can benefit from a on site program. Churches are great and you may even have a few customers already there. Get creative! Some of my colleagues have bought houses near each other and dedicated one solely to older children. I have met one provider that used a double for her childcare and simply put the older children in the other half.
Where do I find my potential customers?
I personally like to go to the source, I found that many school here in Indianapolis still have not taking the initiative to provide before and after-care for their children. Find those schools and contact the local office for permission to send home advertisements. Host a skate party or something similar, at a local bounce house to introduce the program. Pass out stickers with the flyers so children take them home to remind parents.
Become acquainted with the teachers. Consider sending them goodie bags just to let them know you are there to help them if needed. Tutoring and homework assistance at home does wonders for eliminate stress on the teacher’s end. Let them know that! Also, be patient. With my first attempt at starting a before an after-care program, I sent out 800+ flyers to one school. I waited 3 months before getting my first callback.
How to start preparing a schedule?
Decide how to organize the children seats and classroom. I would suggest letting them blow off some steam before getting started. Get a simple snack menu together so employees can have the food ready when they arrive. If you are having lots of downtime, consider combining the snack and eating them in one fun activity.
I personally love cooking with children because they are always so engaged. Create a schedule that cycles, as the children arrive; have them go in an area where they can snack and talk. Next, send them to a quiet area to work and read. Then, when they are finish, have them go back into the snack are with games and activities until you are ready to work “one on one” or with that age/grade level group.
I hope that you enjoyed Akira’s Before/After Care tips. If so, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.