How To Start An Afterschool or Extended Care Program:
A Step-by-step Guide
There is a need for afterschool and extended care activities in your community, and you have just the solution. Perhaps you would like to tutor students in academics, offer foreign language, art, music, or dance classes. In addition, sports programs serve as a healthy outlet for excess energy.
How to start an afterschool program necessitates step-by-step planning, and we want to help you get started. Read on.
Before Starting An Afterschool or Extended Care Program
When starting an afterschool program, keep in mind that it is a business, and success depends on taking the right steps. Even if you operate as a non-profit, the rules of business apply. You have chosen the service you want to provide now you need a plan.
1. Define Your Goals
What is your vision for this afterschool or extended care program?
What professional achievements are you looking forward to accomplishing?
What benefits do you hope to bring to the children and community with your program?
What is your financial goal?
Define your answers to these questions in writing. It would help if you had a clear visualization of your goals to create a strategy that leads to achievement.
During your program, you will want to revisit these goals periodically to make sure you are still on track to achieve them.
2. Make A Written Business Plan
No matter how simple your afterschool or extended care program seems, you still need to put it in writing and answer the critical questions. Do your research and be sure your answers are accurate. Don't let your enthusiasm overwhelm the financial facts.
- How big is the market for your afterschool program?
- How much up-front funding will you need?
- Where will those funds come from?
- How many participants can you accept per class session?
- What will you charge per student to cover operating expenses and still show a profit?
- Is there likely enough demand for your services at the rate you will need to charge?
- Will you be able to pay additional employees if needed?
- Can you afford adequate liability insurance?
Business Plan Forms are available online to guide you through the process and answer the right questions. Then, if the plan is valid, you can turn your enthusiasm loose and move forward.
3. Choose The Location For Your Afterschool or Extended Care Program.
You can make plans and preparations for starting an afterschool or extended care program from your home office. However, the location you choose to conduct your classes should be safe, easily accessible to all, and priced within your budget.
The location you choose may need to meet state and municipal child health and safety requirements. The rules vary by state and community, so check your local requirements to ensure the location you select is compliant.
Schools, community centers, and park districts are popular choices for afterschool programs. These facilities are already state and municipally approved. In addition, such venues are in a position to help you promote your program to your target clientele.
You want to lease the space you need for the time you use it. Existing facilities like schools and community centers make this possible. They also help keep your lease costs down compared to leasing full-time private space like a storefront or commercial business space.
You can operate your afterschool program from your private residence if it meets state and local regulations. However, remember that you will likely need to significantly increase your homeowners' liability insurance policy.
4. What Will You Name Your Afterschool or Extended Care Program?
We recommend you choose a name that flows and is easily remembered. Keep the name short but descriptive of your program. Do a Google search of the name and if someone already has registered a business with that name, choose another, avoid conflicts, and cease and dissent letters.
You will want the domain name as well for your website. Again, Go-Daddy can help you sort through and select what is available.
One way to keep your name selection original and straightforward is to incorporate your own legal name or your community's name.
Keep your options open for future expansion and change. For example, if you are teaching hip-hop, refer to your program as 'Dance,' leaving the door open for other dance styles. You might teach basketball skills but refer to your program as 'Sports Skills.' I'm sure you get the idea.
5. Register Your After School or Extended Care Program As A Business
Your city may or may not require you to register your afterschool or extended care program as a business and secure a license to operate. Check with administers to know for sure.
If you receive payment for goods and services, the state and federal governments are interested. Therefore, you need a federal and state identification number. You can use your social security number, but we like to keep business and personal separate.
Besides, it's quick and easy to go to IRS EIN to register for the federal ID number, and your state will have a comparable website. Most afterschool program start-ups are sole proprietorships.
In addition, your state may require licensing for your afterschool program. Start with youth.gov. That will help determine the specific guidelines for your state.
6. Now You Need A Business Bank Account
All of your afterschool and extended care program operations will be carried out under your business name and your registered EIN.
Your business bank account will reflect that information. In addition, all business transactions will use your unique identifiers.
7. Will You Need Additional Employees And Volunteers?
Whether you hire employees or accept volunteers, a clean background check is required to work with children. For the safety of the children and the peace of mind for parents, let your potential staff know that they must be willing to submit to an extensive background check and make sure yours is up to date.
Safety Zone is a helpful article published by AmTrust Financial that is worth reading. The report covers the reasons for background checks for children's programs and an extension that you may want to include.
Some afterschool programs may be exempt by your state from some background check elements. However, for the children's safety in your program and your reputation, consider your responsibility and your liability carefully when hiring staff.
8. Promote Your Afterschool and Extended Care Program
Advertising and promotion are critical as you learn how to start an afterschool and extended care program. Program success depends on getting the word out and filling the class spaces.
Afterschool Alliance offers many helpful tips on their website about starting a successful afterschool program, including promotion ideas.
Make up some take-home flyers promoting your afterschool program. Ask the local schools to send the brochures home with each student. Then, post the flyers in other places like churches, park districts, and community bulletin boards.
Create or hire a professional to create an attention-getting and fun-looking website. Promote your website on social media like Facebook. Digital ads on your local community websites are often cost-effective. Direct contact with your sphere of influence is constructive, so always have a few flyers handy.
9. How Will You Organize and Manage Your Afterschool or Extended Care Program?
You could hire an office manager to handle class registrations, collect payments, refund cancellations and manage the bookkeeping and payroll. Parents will have questions you will need to take time to answer. You might find that student follow-up evaluations are beneficial as well.
For an afterschool program, the time required would be minimal. If you have the skills, you might want to do that work yourself. If not, this is not the time to self-teach yourself. A successful afterschool or extended care program needs to operate smoothly and efficiently without confusion.
Another option for organized management is a software program like Curacubby that manages your tasks digitally using your computer or smartphone. For example, the program can handle registrations and payments and produce multiple reports and evaluations.
To manage the financial process, Curacubby integrates with QuickBooks. Now you can track your income and expenses, create financial reports, manage payroll, calculate your profits and pay your taxes.
It may seem that all these steps to start an afterschool or extended care program complicate your simple idea of teaching an actual class. In actuality, the steps are easily accomplished and only need doing once. You can achieve the tasks in a week.
The results of afterschool programs are gratifying for you, your students, and your community. Read through the list of benefits at Youth.gov. and be inspired.