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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 Photo 1.13 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 one time? • Are staff able to maintain line-of-sight supervision in all areas? Program’s Role The role of afterschool programs is to provide a safe nurturing environ- ment, exciting learning experiences, information, 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 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL