Types of School-Age Care


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Most communities offer a variety of school-age care programs. Families should plan ahead to research and visit the program before enrolling. High-quality school-age care helps ensure healthy physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. Not all programs fit all kids!


Licensed Care

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) licenses school-age programs to make sure they meet minimum standards for health and safety. The ratio for licensed school-age programs is 15 children to one qualified staff member.



To find licensed school-age care, contact your local Child Care Aware Washington resource & referral agency or call toll-free 1.800.446.1114.


Recreational (unlicensed) Care

Not all school-age programs must be licensed, including those that are operated by a local parks and recreation department. Other types of recreational care include:

  • Visual and performing arts programs
  • Sports leagues
  • Recreational groups
  • Cultural and social development activities
  • Academic assistance and enrichment components
  • Community service projects
  • Leadership opportunities
To find recreational activities, you can check with your local:

  • Community of faith
  • Parks and recreation department
  • United Way or volunteer center
  • Newspapers and publications
  • County and city websites
Your local school district, YMCA or YWCA may provide both licensed child care programs and unlicensed recreational activities.