Find a Program
Finding the right high quality afterschool or out-of-school time (OST) program for your child or teen can be a challenge. Programs vary by age, size, activities, organization – school-based, faith-based, camp-based, etc. Currently, there is no “one-stop shopping” list of all the existing providers in the state. The resources on this page will help you recognize the characteristics of a high quality, age-appropriate program and locate one in your area.
Identifying a Quality Program
Quality OST programs inspire learning and positive youth development by providing opportunities for autonomy and leadership, caring relationships, connections to family, community and school, safe environments and engaging activities. PSAYDN’s Statement of Quality provides a defining overview of quality for anyone with a vested interest in identifying and working with quality programs.
Regulated vs. Non-regulated Care
In Pennsylvania, there are regulated and non-regulated programs. Regulated must meet certain requirements:
- provide a certain number of staff per amount of children and youth;
- provide constant supervision;
- provide nutritious meals;
- ensure that all enrolled children are immunized;
- meet state health and safety standards; and
- provide learning opportunities.
Regulated programs are also inspected every year. Non-regulated programs are more informal and are not required to meet the guidelines listed above.
Younger Children – Tools to Find a Provider
Keystone STARS provides families with a tool to find and gauge the quality of regulated early learning programs. Programs participating in Keystone STARS care about providing quality early learning to your child. The COMPASS Online Child Care Provider Search lets you search for providers near you, displays STARS ratings, and other information about a provider.
The Parent's Guide to Choosing Quality Child Care is another tool about the benefits of quality. It contains exercises and questions to ask to help you determine your true childcare needs and rate a quality program: child to staff ratios, staff training, cost, safety, obtaining references, facility features, etc. The Guide is produced by the Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality, a quality improvement program sponsored by the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning.
Older Youth – A Special Need and What to Consider
Finding quality programs that engage middle and high school youth can be especially challenging. They are testing their independence, want to hang out with friends, find jobs, etc. However, it is proven that youth enrolled in OST have a stronger connection to the school day and community, recognize the importance of an education, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. We encourage you to read PSAYDN’s Pennsylvania Older Youth Out-of-School Time Study: A Practitioner’s Guide to Promising Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Older Youth Recruitment and Retention [link to PDF: Practitioner’s Guide]. The Guide studies real programs in Pennsylvania, and highlights the structure and activities the programs use to keep older youth engaged and prepared for the real world.
Do you have an older child? Think about opportunities not activities. Older Youth need opportunities to develop social and workplace skills through meaningful projects in the real world. See the PSAYDN Pennsylvania Older Youth Out-of-School Time Study.
This list recommends larger providers and resources in the state and by region. In addition to these links, we recommend contacting your local school district, library, faith-based organization, college or university, quality programs can be found
21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC)
21st CCLC programs provide federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for children, particularly students who attend high poverty and low performing schools, in order to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading, math and science. These programs are also intended to offer students a broad array of activities and to include families and the community in the educational process.
Boys & Girls Clubs in Pennsylvania
Clubhouse sites throughout the state serve over 115,000 kids, ages 6-18, on a daily basis. The mission of the Area Council is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those that need us the most, to realize their full potential as productive and caring citizens.
COMPASS Online Child Care Provider Search
COMPASS is an online application for Pennsylvanians to search and apply for many health and human service programs.
Girls on the Run®
Girls on the Run® is a youth development program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade which combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls.
Lutheran Social Ministry Organizations
Bringing health and hope to children, families and older adults through long-term residential care; providing diverse community-based services to children and families; giving medical care.
Pennsylvania 4-H is more than just farming and reaches into urban areas. The Penn State University Cooperative Agricultural and Cooperative Extension 4-H program delivers educational programs in civic engagement; consumer and financial issues; science and technology; volunteerism; leadership development; and service learning from local to international levels.
Pennsylvania Child Care Association Provider Search
Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) is a strong and effective voice for quality early care and education (ECE) programs, and gives leadership and support to ECE organizations.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Service – Child Care and Early Learning
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Child Care and Early Learning Department provides a searchable database, including the Keystone Stars ranking, and resources to help you locate quality programs. Assistance related to child care is also available: child care fees, transportation, meals, etc.
Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality
Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality (PA Keys) is a quality improvement program sponsored by the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning with regional links on early learning and school-age partners for providers and parents to support positive outcomes for children.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army assists nearly 30 million Americans each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
The United Way advances the common good and improves communities across the Commonwealth as places to live and do business through statewide initiatives, partnerships, and advocacy.
The YMCA is an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
Centre County United Way
Centre County United Way in State College, Pennsylvania improves lives by prioritizing, mobilizing and creating sustained changes in community conditions, which improve the quality of life in Centre County.
YMCA of Greater Erie
The YMCA is a cause-driven organization that is for youth development, for healthy living and for social responsibility.
After School Activities Partnership
The Partnership maintains a citywide directory of afterschool enrichment and recreation programs in Philadelphia, featuring more than 1,000 entries, which is published each fall in the Philadelphia Daily News and is updated throughout the year.
City Year Philadelphia
As tutors and mentors, City Year Greater Philadelphia provides critically needed services to some of Philadelphia’s most underserved children and youth.
Lehigh Carbon Community College
Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) has touched thousands of lives. From associate's degrees to certificates, workforce training and community education, LCCC's influence in the region is profound.
Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc.
The visions of Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. (PYN) is that all of the city's young people take their rightful places as full and contributing members of a world-class workforce for the region. PYN makes connections between individuals, organizations and systems to prepare the city's youth to thrive in a regional and global economy.
United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) aims to provide leadership, create coalitions and develop resources to increase the organized capacity of people to care for one another. UWGLV’s community goals include children healthy and ready for school; youth succeeding in school; older adults aging successfully; and strong families and neighborhoods.
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania (UWSEPA) aims to be the region’s leading catalyst for change, inspiring and uniting local communities to collaboratively invest in results that ensure children success in school, families are financially stable and older adults thrive.
Harrisburg Area YMCA
The Harrisburg Area YMCA is committed to aid in the spiritual, mental and physical development of each person enabling them to be beneficial and contributing members of our society.
United Way of the Capital Region
United Way of the Capital Region (UWCR) serves Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties. UWCR identifies long-term and pressing community needs, finds solutions to address those needs and provides results to show we are making a difference.
Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time
Headed by United Way of Allegheny County, the Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) is exploring the research, identifying best practices, and conducting a series of benchmarking trips to learn important steps in creating a coherent system for afterschool.
United Way of Allegheny County
United Way of Allegheny County (UWAC) is a change agent and community fundraiser that improves lives by addressing critical community needs. UWAC creates long-lasting change, helps children and youth succeed, strengthens and supports families by promoting financial stability, and provides referral sources meeting basic needs.