5 Common Logistical Challenges in Running an Afterschool Program and How to Streamline Operations
By Arly Communications on September 19, 2022
Organizing before- and afterschool programs comes with a long list of things to think through. You might start with key considerations, such as your overall mission and how you can help your local school district fill gaps and achieve its goals. These big-picture considerations are foundational, but you also need to think through the nuts and bolts of how your program will run.
When it comes to operational logistics, youth programs need quality solutions for common challenges. Let’s explore these and discover how the right software can help you deliver a great program.
Planning a before- or afterschool program is an intensive and detailed process. There’s no room to cut corners because this planning gives you the direction you need to deliver a great program. You have to think through the curriculum, staff, schedule, funding, and more.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and disorganized at this stage if you don’t take a systematic approach to planning. Ensure you have a clear checklist that includes all the details needed for each planning area and identifies who is responsible for each task.
Planning should involve multiple staff members, so you also need means of collaborating. The right software platform can go a long way for collaboration. When everyone’s using the same platform for planning, you can see what others have completed and share tasks without a messy system of spreadsheets and emails.
Check out our “Program Planning Highlights” to learn more!
Recruiting and enrolling program participants can present a logistical challenge. You need a straightforward means for families to enroll so you can stay organized.
Online enrollment comes with some real benefits for your program. The right software solution for enrollment should:
- Facilitate the application process.
- Allow families to auto-enroll or join a waitlist.
- Provide and collect all necessary documents and waivers.
- Make it easy for families to access the system online or in a mobile app.
- Increase the accuracy and efficiency of your processes.
With a modern software solution, you can automate the whole process and have everything you need from families on file in one place.
3. Roster and Attendance Management
Attendance tracking is essential for your program and its stakeholders. Some afterschool program grants, for example, include attendance requirements for program participants. You also want to know which days you can expect kids to be in attendance and when they consistently have to miss so you’re prepared and aware of any abnormalities in attendance.
Trying to manage your roster and track attendance manually can be time-consuming and vulnerable to inaccuracies, so this is another area in which youth programming software is key.
Staff should be able to access rosters online to see who they’re working with and learn participants’ names to build rapport. They should also be able to easily record daily attendance, with the system automatically compiling this data for total attendance numbers.
4. Communication with Families
One of the biggest challenges for some afterschool programs is family communication. However, this is an essential area to prioritize. Keeping families informed can increase their engagement and contribute to a streamlined program.
Parents and guardians are used to communicating virtually and will appreciate having a modern platform for your program communications. The right communication app will:
- Let you post announcements and send notifications to participants’ devices.
- Provide a way to share photos and success stories.
- Facilitate internal communications with your team.
- Provide a way for families to contact staff and administrators.
5. Data Tracking
Another necessary part of a successful program is data tracking. Data tracking plays a major role before, during, and after your program.
A study of afterschool enrichment programs found that programs tend to use data for four purposes:
- Staying accountable to stakeholders
- Identifying opportunities for improvement
- Informing strategic planning
- Enhancing program management
You can’t do any of those things if you don’t have the data points you need. Data tracking through manual methods is time-consuming and more likely to be inaccurate than digital tracking.
You can streamline data tracking by recording all the information you need in a single platform. Then, you can let the platform do the work of generating the composite numbers and percentages you need.
Streamline Operations with Arly
At Arly, we understand what matters to youth programmers and the logistical challenges that can distract from your mission. Our software solution offers the features you need to efficiently facilitate planning, enrollment, roster and attendance management, communication, data tracking, and more.
Our program planning is rooted in evidence-based best practices, so you can feel confident you’re taking the right steps to build and manage a quality program.
Request a demo of our platform to see it in action!