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Preface This book is for individuals who work in programs that provide care to children from kindergarten through early adolescence when they are not in school. The name for these programs varies. Titles include “afterschool,” “school-age,” and “before-and-after” care. You will find these three titles used interchangeably in this book. Just as the names of programs differ, so each program has unique characteristics. School-age programs come in all sizes, from six children in a family child care home, to before-school programs that offer care to twenty children only during the hours before school, to programs that offer care to a hundred or more children before and after school and during times when school is not in session. Some programs offer care only during the summer. The program purpose can also vary. Some programs are based in academics, others are recreational, and still others are a combination of academic, recreational, and social development programs. Regardless of their variations, one critical element of quality programs for school-age chil- dren should be a constant: providing a safe place for children to play, develop social skills, increase learning, and make friends. School-age programs are important in the lives of children and their families. According to a 2009 Afterschool Alliance fact sheet, “8.4 million K–12 children (15 percent) participate in afterschool programs. An additional 18.5 million would participate if a quality program were available in their commu- nity.” The daunting number of children who need quality programs offers a great opportunity and a large responsibility to those designing environments and caring for children when they are not in school. Afterschool programs can provide a safe haven where children can flourish and be accepted for who they are while learning about others and the community around them. Cre- ating a community within the school-age program allows children to develop socially and cognitively and helps them master self-help skills in a safe, nur- turing environment. But creating environments that meet the needs of all the children— regardless of size, age, gender, ethnicity, or ability—requires time, planning, and information gathering. Often before-and-after care programs become spaces that warehouse children for a period of time when they are not in school. Programs can be devoid of inviting and appropriate physical spaces, engaging learning experiences, and opportunities for social skill building. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL xi