top of page

Starting a Program

Are you thinking about starting a new program? Thank you for your desire to serve our youth! 

In an effort to create a resource tool for afterschool providers, we have drawn upon national research and existing documents on how to start a program. You will find articles, useful websites, funding sources, and templates to consider. Our intent is to place resources into one space to provide context and direction.

Starting, Operating & Sustaining

Starting an afterschool program can be a difficult task, particularly in areas where funding and support are scarce. It needs a combination of research and planning; developing program vision mission, design, and continuous improvement systems; workforce development; licensing; policies; and protocols; and risk management. It also highlights the importance of the role that community intermediaries play in supporting cross-sector partnerships among various stakeholders through a systems approach. 

A few considerations to build high-quality afterschool programs include:

  • Research and Planning: Initiating a task force that represents various local stakeholder groups and individuals committed to the cause of starting an afterschool program can support the initial research and planning process. This includes conducting a needs assessment through surveys, interviews, and focus groups to determine types of afterschool programs needed in the community, leveraging existing resources, and identifying systems and supports that need to be established.

  • Funding & Budgeting: Most programs will likely need some start-up funding to get off the ground. Communities need to learn about federal, state, or local funds as well as look for private and in-kind donations to support afterschool programs. Programs will also need to budget for both start-up and daily operating costs keeping in mind the ability to pay for these programs.

  • State Regulations: Single activity programs and programs operating for 15 hours or less per week are exempt from licensure.  For the full wording of license exempt please refer to the Oklahoma Child Care Facilities Licensing Act §10-403 Exemptions from Application of Act. Oklahoma requires programs to meet the common requirements in the state's Administrative Code (OAC) 340:110-3-275 through 340:110-3-305, unless the addendum requirements on this page state otherwise. 

  • Partnerships: Developing a collaborative cross-sector partnership that includes schools, juvenile systems, social service and other such allied youth fields is important to leverage the multiple settings where learning happens. School-OST partnership is even more essential to recruit students, improve staff engagement, enable alignment of a shared vision of learning, and maximize resource usage like facilities, staff, data, curriculum, etc. 

  • Vision & Mission: Programs need to develop a collaborative vision and mission that is inclusive of families, youth, schools, community partners, etc., for what success looks and feels like for young people. It is also essential to consider that the learning setting is developmentally appropriate, safe and supportive, built on positive relationships, and meets the needs and interests of young people.

  • Organizational Structures, Policies and Protocols: Programs should also consider if they want to organize as a government, non-profit, for-profit, school-based organization, or partner with existing national or local organizations. It is essential to develop policies and protocols for enrollment, staffing, transportation, family engagement, behavior management, food, health and safety, and reporting of child abuse.

  • High-Quality Programming and Continuous Quality Improvement Systems: There is a growing body of information on curricula and activities for afterschool programs and providers. However, it is important that programs implement evidence-based practices, or core components in order to evaluate whether they have attained their intended outcomes. Building a quality continuous improvement system that is nested in a low-stakes accountability approach that provides supports to staff to build their capacity. Some researchers also reason that developmental relationships between young people and adults may be more important than any particular curriculum or program element in successful afterschool programs


What resources are available?

Program Toolkbox

Guides to Start an Afterschool Program 

Funding Worksheet

Funding Sources at a glance

BOOST Funding page

Grant Database

OK 21st Century Community Learning Centers

Glossary of Grant Terms

Childcare Licensing Requirements

Child Care Subsidy

OK Child Nutrition Programs

Enrollment Templates

Schedule Template 

Activity Templates

Examples of Flyers

Responsibility Checklist 

Positive Youth Development (PYD)

The Afterschool Alliance  

bottom of page