Alert: Beginning July 1, 2018, the Department of Early Learning will become the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). After June 30, 2018, this website will no longer be updated. For the latest information on early learning, visit the DCYF website at

Visiting a School-Age program


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Choosing an afterschool program is an important decision for you and your child. DEL's booklet You Have a Choice! A Guide to Finding Quality Child Care [855k] can help you find quality child care providers and paying for child care.

Below is a list of suggested questions to ask while visiting a school-age program, modified from School’s Out Washington.

  • What qualifications do the staff and director have? What ongoing training are staff required to attend, and are staff encouraged to attend trainings offered by professionals in the field of school-age care? Are staff specifically trained to work with this age group?
  • How does the program’s environment look? Are there separate areas for different age or interest groups? Are there areas for kids to have some private space? Is it generally clean and orderly? Are you inclined to stay?
  • What types of activities are planned for the kids? Is there good balance between indoor/outdoor, large group/small group, active/quiet, and staff-directed/child-directed activities? Is there time for kids to just "hang out"? Are activities planned to meet the developmental needs of all children in the program? Will the program meet the needs and interests of your particular child?
  • What are the program philosophies and goals? Do these match your values? Ask to have a copy of the program’s handbook to check out all the important information on billing, payments, pick-up, safety, etc.
  • What is the staff-to-child ratio? The ratio should never exceed 15-to-1. Lower ratios (10-to-1) promote higher quality standards.
  • What is the rate of staff turnover? Continual changes in staff can create program instability.
  • What meals or snacks are served? Are they well- balanced to meet the cultural and nutritional needs of the children? Is there enough food served to meet the needs of this age group?
  • Do they have a state-issued DEL license that is current? Click here to learn more about licensing requirements.
  • Will the director give you names of parents in the program to call and ask questions? Do they allow open visits by parents?
  • What is the program’s discipline policy? Does this fit into your ideas and beliefs?
  • If your child has special needs, will they be met by the program?
  • What is your child’s first impression of the program--your first impression? Is the overall atmosphere and sound of the kids and staff a happy and inviting sound? Are they having fun?
  • What are transportation policies? What vehicles do they use?
  • What community resources does the program use?
  • What are the policies on TV viewing? Is it used sparingly and not in place of quality activities?