Options for After School Care

| August 22, 2012 | 3 Comments

Boy unlocking front doorThe air is starting to get just a bit crisper, and soon the kids will be returning to school. If both parents work out of the home, you may be concerned about who will be caring for your children after school. In the summer, you may have staggered vacation weeks, gotten relatives to help, or sent the kids to camp, but those options won’t work now that they’ll be in school for the majority of their days. Here are a few ideas to consider when it comes to after school care:

Care at the School

Many schools provide an after-school program for a nominal fee. This is a good option for elementary school-aged children when you are available to pick them up before the program ends for the day. I know that our local school provides care until 5:00, so while this works out for families where one parent is out by this time, it doesn’t work for others. Also, sometimes there are limits as to how many children the school can accommodate, due to staffing issues. Call and find out the details now if you think this is a service you’ll need.

Other After School Programs

Many daycare centers offer after school care for kids up to fifth or sixth grade. Transportation may even be provided if the center is close to the school. These types of programs are great if you have a younger child in daycare as well, because you can pick up all of the kids in one place after work. Also, most daycare programs have hours that are convenient to working parents, and usually have homework assistance available, as well as age-appropriate activities. The downside is that they can be pricey, but sibling discounts might be available.

In-Home Care

If your kids already have transportation home, either because you live close enough for them to walk or via bus or carpool, hiring a teen or adult babysitter to meet them and care for them until you get home might be a convenient option. One benefit of this arrangement is that the kids are in their own environment, and they can relax, have a snack, start homework or even start chores. Costs may vary widely; ask around for recommendations if you want to hire a babysitter.

Letting Them Stay Home Alone

We’ve talked before about how to determine if your child is ready to stay home alone. If your child meets the criteria, then this might be an option for you. You’ll probably feel better and your child will be safer if there’s a neighbor that he can go to if he forgets his key, gets scared or otherwise needs an adult’s help. Also, it’s a good idea to have him call you when he gets in, and to go over any rules, such as whether he can have friends over, what he can have for a snack, and whether he needs to get his homework done before you get home.

Arranging after-school care can be a hassle, but once it’s out of the way, you’ll hopefully have smooth sailing for the school year!

Comments (3)

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  1. Nena Sinclair says:

    After school care is always a challenge. Here most schools don’t offer an after school program, day cares are all full and reliable babysitters are expensive. I wound up quitting my job to stay home until the kids are older because of this problem.

  2. gina valley says:

    Good list for parents to consider as they try to decide what will work best for their family. So many parents have to handle this challenge.

    I feel so lucky that I can work from home,and, with a little help, hang out with my kids after they are home from school, but I remember the stress of trying to ensure care when I was working from an outside office. So stressful!

  3. Tiffany says:

    I’m fortunate to be home for my kids. Good info.

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