children outside schoolThere are various options for before- and afterschool care for your school-age child (also known as out-of-school-time care). Child care centers and family child care homes may offer this type of care. Recreation centers, places of worship, and youth programs, including organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers may also offer before-and afterschool programs.

Additionally, in many communities, local schools provide afterschool care or hire another agency to provide onsite care before and after school. These programs are convenient for families since transportation is not an issue. Contact your child’s elementary school to find out whether an onsite program is available.

Depending on the rules in your state, before- and afterschool care programs may or may not be required to be licensed. Licensing does not guarantee quality; however, it sets minimum standards and ensures that programs are monitored for compliance with these standards.

States have a child care search which can help you determine if the providers you are considering are licensed. You can search for detailed information about providers in your state and find more information about your state’s child care requirements by using the search feature of this website. Just click this link, See Your State's Resources, select your state under “Get Child Care Resources.” You will then see a variety of links to state specific information including “Inspection Reports” and “Child Care Regulations” information for your state.

Tips for Choosing This Type of Care

school age children reading together

  • If before- and afterschool care programs are required to be licensed in your state, ask to see a copy of the program’s license, registration or certification, and inspection history.

  • Most states post inspection reports online. Use the See Your State's Resources feature on this website to see inspection reports of child care providers you are considering. These reports provide valuable information about the quality of child care programs. Check them before you select a program and regularly while your child is enrolled.

  • Ask how many adults and children are in each group of children.

  • Make sure that each staff person has received training on important health and safety topics such as first aid and CPR, giving children medication, and child development. Learn more about the 12 health and safety trainings that all adults caring for children should have.

  • Ask about the daily schedule, enrichment activities, support for children doing homework, and whether a healthy meal or snack is provided.

  • Confirm that every adult working or volunteering in the program has had a comprehensive background check.

  • Get a copy of the provider’s policies and contract. These documents should cover important topics, including hours of operation, rates, fees, field trip permission slips, transportation agreements, and absence policies. Read more about recommended items that should be included in a child care contract.

  • Ask about the program’s policies for days that school is out of session for breaks or bad weather.

  • Print a list of questions and things to look for that you can take with you when visiting potential before- and afterschool care programs.


This text has been adapted from content originally created by Child Care Aware of America Grant #90LH002 for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Child Care (OCC).