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How connecting with peers can help prepare you for your next before and after school care season

Arux customer success specialist Ashley Hayes outlines ten things you can learn by connecting with your fellow before and after school leaders.

Gearing up for summer and planning for fall — that’s where we know after school program leaders' heads are at during the spring. As you plan to make your next school year a cut above, we wanted to highlight the importance of learning and connecting with others in your industry. 

We’ll start by saying that networking is hard, and it can be tricky to know where to start. So, we tapped one of Arux’s customer success specialists and former after school professional, Ashley Hayes, to share ten things you can ask and learn more about from your peers in the before and after school space.

Program Structure Learning how other districts in your area (and nationwide) structure their programs — schedules, rate types, and additional offerings — is a great place to start. Many of these items are nuanced and can be influenced by community makeup, but knowing how other programs are structured and succeed is important. 

Staffing and recruiting Building and maintaining reliable staff is a top objective for your program, and many need help with this. However, you never know who is being successful (and why) if you don’t ask. Ask others about recruiting methods, messaging, and where they’re trying to reach potential talent. Then, when talent is on board, what retention strategies are being leveraged by districts that have built and maintained successful teams? Check out Radar Talent Solution’s content on hiring and staff retention strategies from the Arux blog.

Attendance policies What are their attendance policies? This may match their rate types. While most districts implement a full-time schedule, different circumstances exist. A few communities allow families to only pay by attendance. If that’s the case, how do they pay staff if fees collected for actual attendance don’t cover staff salaries? The community makeup can influence this, but there may be more room for flexibility than you currently think.

Attendance tracking Are your peers using any apps to help track attendance? Leveraging an app to track attendance empowers staff on the ground to record various student information in real time. This information can include e-signatures, attendance (in-time and out-time, child profiles, emergency contacts, daily child updates, and location details. Arux Connect: Child Care is an extension of the Arux platform. It allows each child care site to manage student sign-in/sign-out and attendance tracking while providing staff access to important student information, including authorized pickups and emergency contact details.

Non-school days Do programs offer non-school days? If yes, how do they determine essential details like cost and hours? And do they allow children who are not currently enrolled to attend? Districts can manage non-school days in various ways. Gathering this information is worth doing to ensure you’re offering the best solution for your community. Surveying your community is a great place to start to see if you need to offer non-school days.

Family communication around registration Registration windows are the highest touchpoint between an after school program and its families. These windows require the most thought and care regarding communication. This is a high-stakes time for programs, so you’ll notice our following items focus on the importance of registration. The first is information sharing. What information would be most helpful in advertising to families beforehand? Timing is essential, but how deep are other programs communicating the registration experience to families so they know what to expect? Do you need any important information here?

Registration timelines When are programs around you opening for registration, and why? These are the most important dates on your program’s calendar, so it's crucial to be intentional about when you open. In the spirit of sharing information, have you found certain months work best for registrations in your community? Share them with your peers.

Registration fees Fees are another crucial part of the registration experience. Are colleagues in your network applying these fees? How do they determine the amount?

Non-school day registration We touched on non-school days and how it’s important to iron out details like cost, hours, and which children attend, but backing up — do you want to open non-school day registration during regular program registration, and what are the potential advantages and disadvantages here? Also, what are other programs doing around cancellation policies? Community outreach through surveys Does your program leverage surveys to determine the best needs for your community? You could ask about hours, program satisfaction, or enrichment opportunities that the community would like to see provided. 

Asking for help isn't easy, but it's always worth it

We started this conversation by saying that networking is hard. But it’s a sign of strength and a demonstration of willingness to improve your program in any way possible. We hope this list can be a starting point for your outreach efforts. In addition to your networking, always check back with the Arux blog for helpful information as you plan around your after school program.


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