What challenges or obstacles might I face in setting up a quality afterschool program?
The challenges that afterschool programs face are in some ways the same challenges schools themselves face. How do we find, train, and then keep good staff? How do we help parents, and involve parents, with difficult work schedules? Where do we find money for materials, computers, field trips? How can we create an environment in which children can learn, play, and be safe? For afterschool programs, there are added questions: How can we market our services to the community, and keep them informed about and involved with our program? How do we sustain the program in the long term, after the initial funding runs out?
Don't try to reinvent the wheel.
None of these challenges can be ignored, and all of them require the dedication of time and resources if they are to be solved. However, successful programs are in place around the country, and they have all struggled with these same issues. As more and more communities and school districts wrestle with the problems of afterschool time, they communicate with each other about solutions. Using the Internet, you can get in touch with other program administrators and find out about how they've dealt with these issues.
Organizations like NIOST, The Mott Foundation, The Afterschool Alliance, and NSACA are resources you can turn to to find solutions to the challenges you face. Throughout this workshop, we've pointed you to materials and sites that offer more detailed information about funding, training, staffing, and other critical issues. Begin with these, which we have listed in our Resources section.