building that is suitable for the intended
purpose of the program. A facility such
as a former library or an office building
is more easily redesigned specifically for
child care than a bowling alley or a skat-
ing rink. The amount of space available
for children’s use is another significant
This whimsical snake
hangs from the ceiling to
invite children to the sci-
ence and discovery area.
An old broomstick, hand
puppet, and artificial
vines hung together from
fishing wire were used
for this low-cost signage.
factor in the quality of care. The size of
the facility dictates the maximum number of children in care.
Dedicated space environments are much more permanent than shared
space and do not require the daily setup of program space. In addition, dedi-
cated space can support many functions and activities, each of which can take
place in a separate room or location in a center or building. Staff and children
can create and control their environment according to program goals and
needs. Those that operate in dedicated space often incur all the expenses of
the building and grounds, including maintenance fees and security systems.
Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate the physical limitations of
your dedicated space:
• Can the space be divided to accommodate a variety of activities at
• Are staff able to maintain line-of-sight supervision in all areas?
The role of afterschool
programs is to provide a
safe nurturing environ-
ment, exciting learning
and resources that will
support both the child
and the family.
• Are there enough toileting and hand-washing facilities for the number
of children enrolled?
• Can children be kept safe from harm in the building?
• Is the building healthy and safe?
Communication Is a Key to Success
No matter what kind of program space—shared or dedicated—you have, an
essential key to success is communication. Communication directed to indi-
viduals or organizations takes many forms—verbal, written, electronic, paper.
Communication to families is the foundation of your program and can
be a key marketing strategy. School-age program staff have a unique oppor-
tunity to talk to family members daily as they drop their children off in the
morning and pick them up in the evening. This personal, face-to-face com-
munication helps families feel valued and connected to your program. How
and what you communicate can be a wonderful marketing tool. A positive
comment about your program from one parent to another or from a com-
munity leader can create a favorable public image. Written materials such as
newsletters and brochures can communicate your program’s goals, mission,
8 • Chapter 1