Back to school means back to school-age child care arrangements for many families across our county.
Child care arrangements for before and after school and on school breaks are crucial for working parents to ensure children are safe and well. 60% of Maryland’s school age children are in child care centers; 35% are in family child care, and another 5% are in the child’s own home.
In Maryland, all child care centers and family child care homes are required to be licensed to operate. A child care license is important because it means that the program is meeting some basic standards, the staff participates in required training, and the program is inspected and monitored regularly to ensure the well-being of children in care.
There are programs in our community advertising and offering a variety of opportunities for school-age children in the after-school hours. If they are operating without a license from the Maryland State Department of Education Office of Child Care, they are providing unlicensed, unregulated, illegal child care. Illegally operating early childhood and school-age child care programs persist due to limited enforcement of Maryland state rules.
Unfortunately, public schools may still allow unlicensed before and after school care programs to drop-off and pick-up students at the schools.
The Resource Center and our partners promote the importance of licensed child care, and advocate for the supports necessary to maintain and access licensed care.
Action steps for parents
- Before you choose a program for your child, ask, “Are you licensed?”
- Even if you believe they are, ask them to be sure. Licensed programs must display their licenses in a front area or prominent place for all to see. You can also find out if a program is licensed by contacting the state’s licensing office.
- If they say they aren’t, ask them why? Tell them that it’s important to you, and all parents, that your children’s programs are licensed and follow recommended safety and accountability practices.
- If they aren’t licensed, you can also decide to leave and find a licensed program. Your child deserves to be in a safe, regulated environment.
- Check out this guest blog for more: https://www.childresource.org/choose-licensed-care-programs-school-age-children-doubt-ask-tell/
Action steps for child care program leaders:
- Contact the Prince George’s Child Resource center with any questions about licensure, getting started as a licensed program, or succeeding in maintaining your license.
- Take action with us when it’s time to contact state legislators and others about child care!
- Check out the Resource Center’s state policy agenda: https://www.childresource.org/programs/advocacy/
- Check out the resources from the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment: https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/ncase-resource-library
Action steps for county and school leaders:
- Enforce existing laws that require before- and after-school services to be licensed
- Allow only licensed after-school programs to pick up students at Prince George’s County Public School sites.
- Educate families on the importance of licensed child care services.
- Champion investments in child care assistance and after-school programs.
- Partner to provide families with safe, reliable, licensed child-care before and after school.
- Engage with Maryland state agencies to ensure local families’ needs are met.
Published on August 15, 2019