Visiting and Interviewing School-Age Child Care Providers
Child care for school-aged children is referred to in many different ways: as after school care, before and after school care, care for latchkey kids, after school clubs or sports programs, and summer camps. We have chosen to call these programs “school-age child care,” known in the child care profession as SACC. Although our emphasis will be on SACC programs for children in kindergarten through third grade (ages five through eight), we will also consider the needs of older children. After giving general information about legal requirements, staff qualifications, and parent involvement, we provide some ideas and guidelines tailored more specifically to school-aged child care settings.
Most SACC programs located in or run by child care centers and family care homes are regulated by the state in which they are located. The minimal requirements established by the state are designed only to ensure the safety of the children. They specify adult-to-child ratios and group sizes, which are generally 1:10 for four- to ten-year-old children, with a maximum group size of twenty, and 1:15 for ten- to fourteenyear- old children, with a maximum group size of thirty.
Regulations also ensure safety against fire and promote health standards, the appropriate education and training of staff and director, and adequate space. For instance, most states require thirty-five square feet of space per child and one toilet and washbasin per twenty children.
Independent school-age child care programs and residential and summer camps, if they are regulated at all, are often regulated by different organizations or agencies from those that regulate child care centers and family child care programs. Check with your local child care resource and referral agency to learn whether the program you are considering is required to be licensed. If it is, ask the program director to show you the license and ascertain that it is up to date. Remember that a license tells you only that the organization met the minimum requirements on the books at the time it was issued. You must check out the program yourself to make sure not only that it exceeds minimum requirements but also that it addresses the particular personality, interests, and needs of your child.
Reprinted with the permission of Cornell University. © 2008 Cornell University
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