A quality before- and after- school program for 6 to 12 year olds supports a child's health and well-being by providing:
- supervision and safety in after school hours;
- the opportunity for enrichment activities, which can include learning arts, dance, culture, sports and social recreation activities;
- the opportunity to improve academic achievement.
Before- and after- school programs include supervised programs offered in the morning before school begins and /or in the afternoon after school ends, during school holidays and on professional activity days.
A program locator is now available to help families find a program close to home or school. The locator includes licensed child care programs, community-based after-school programs, and recreation programs that operate 4 or 5 days a week.
"Quality after-school programs provide engaging learning activities in a safe and supportive environment. These programs can meet students 'needs for personal attention from adults, inclusion in positive peer groups, and enjoyable experiential activities that build self-esteem."
(Blenda J. Wilson as cited in Miller, After-school Program and Educational Success, 2003, p.2)
In 2011 the City of Toronto commissioned the report, An Opportunity for Every Child: Realizing the Potential of After-School Programming for Children Ages 6 – 12 in Toronto. The report identifies the current arrangements and needs of families with children aged 6-12 outside of school hours. This information helped the city develop a Middle Childhood Strategy / Stratégie pour enfants d’âge intérimaire.
"it is very important to have a program in each and every school or community centre. [They] should accommodate every child in neighbourhood. This is because 6 to 12 is a very crucial age. At that age children listen, look up to [others]."
Focus Group Participant