Choosing a School-Age Program

School children coloring at a table

Whether you are looking for a summer program or care during the school year, choosing a child care program for your child can be stressful. As a parent of a School-age child you'll want to carefully select child care. Use this guide along with the Quality Indicator checklist to evaluate programs you are considering for your child. Call us toll free at 800-407-5437 or at 330-376-7706 with any questions.  If you prefer a checklist that you can take with you when researching child care facilities, feel free to print out the pdf using the link below.


What to Look for When Choosing a Before & After-School Program

Daily Schedule

  • Is the daily schedule posted?
  • Are children free to choose their own activities?
  • Is there time for active, quiet, and outdoor play?
  • Is there a balance between teacher and child directed activities?
  • Are activities fun and challenging?
  • Is there time scheduled for homework?
  • Is television/computer time limited and supervised?


  • Does the director of the program have a degree or coursework in early childhood development?
  • Does the provider have experience with children your child's age?
  • Does the staff/provider:
  • Greet the child and parent warmly?
  • Listen, talk, and laugh with each child?
  • Use positive discipline?
  • Give love and attention to each child?
  • Work well with adults?
  • Participate in on-going, in-service training on issues relating to the care of children?


  • Is large-muscle and sport equipment available?
  • Are there toys, materials, and furniture appropriate for children ages 6-12?
  • Are there a variety of toys and activities?
  • Are toys and equipment well maintained?

Meals & Snacks

  • Are nutritious snacks provided?
  • Are good health habits encouraged, i.e. hand washing before eating?
  • Is breakfast available in the before-school program?
  • Are individual children's cultural and religious food preferences met, if requested?


  • Is the center/home bright and clean?
  • Is the environment stimulating?
  • Is the outdoor play area well maintained?
  • Does this setting provide a variety of areas including one for relaxation, homework, or active play?
  • Do children have the opportunity to work cooperatively and individually on projects?
  • Does the environment have natural light and good ventilation?
  • Is there space to store individual belongings?

Social Interaction

  • Does the staff talk and listen to the children?
  • Does the staff provide guidance and resources?
  • Are the adults positive role models?

Health & Safety

  • Are toilets and drinking water easily accessible?
  • Are children's health records complete and on file?
  • Are there operable phones on the premises?
  • Are emergency numbers including fire, police, and parents posted by the phone?
  • Is there an evacuation plan for fire, tornado, or emergency posted?
  • Are fire drills practiced with a list of dates and times?
  • Are there at least two exits to the outside?
  • Are ill children isolated, supervised, and parents called immediately?
  • Is there an updated first aid kit?
  • Are children closely supervised by staff at all times?
  • Do children and staff wash hands at appropriate times?


The state of Ohio licenses early childhood programs and certain types of family child care providers. The state sets minimum standards for health and safety, staff qualifications, program requirements, and nutritious meals. The child care licensing law limits the number of children that may be cared for by one staff person.

One person may care for:

18 children Kindergarten to 11 years of age

A family child care provider may care for no more than six children at any one time. No more than three may be under the age of two. These totals must include the provider's own children who are under age six.


  • Is the program licensed by the State of Ohio or approved by the State of Ohio Department of Education?
  • Is the license posted for your review?
  • Is the home provider licensed through the County Department of Job and Family Services or participating in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program?
  • If the home cares for more than six children, is it licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services?
  • Is the home provider listed with Child Care Connection? Call 330-376-7706 or 1-800-407-KIDS for verification.


Ask for references from each potential program/provider. When you call the references, be sure they seem satisfied with the care. Listen to the tone of voice as well as to the answer to your questions. Ask the reference:

  • Is this program/provider reliable and responsible?
  • What did you like most/least about the program?
  • Would you choose this program again?
  • Did your child enjoy this program?


What are the program policies?

Review the program's policies.

  • How are the children enrolled?
  • Is there credit or refund for vacation/sick days?
  • Are you comfortable with the discipline policies?
  • Are there parent meetings, newsletters, or parent nights?
  • May the child visit the program before enrolling?
  • Is the program/provider available during school holidays, snow days, and summer vacation?
  • Is transportation available?


Child Care Connection does not endorse, rate, recommend, or evaluate child care resources, programs, or providers and therefore, Child Care Connection does not assume, warrant, or guarantee quality care. Any information about a caregiver/provider has been provided solely by that caregiver/provider. Child Care Connection believes that consumers are in the best position to evaluate and choose resources appropriate to their child's needs.

CCC - Bouncing Ball