Child Care

Out-of-School Time Care

Frequently Asked Questions

What about the OST regulations and licensing? How important are they?

The OST regulations went into effect on November 30, 2000. OST programs fitting the definition in Child Care Services rules need to become licensed, whether located at school sites or community sites. The regulations are designed to make licensing easier in the school setting. Grantees will need to seek further information from their licensing worker.

Quality, health and safety issues are the focus of the regulations, but another important reason to get licensed is eligibility for reimbursement for families on Child Care Assistance.

What is child care assistance and how does that impact a program?

All families who are eligible for child care assistance under the Division of Child Care Services' guidelines can receive that assistance for OST programs. Programs can assist in getting families enrolled, and the reimbursement fees go directly to the program. This provides an important continuing revenue stream to help sustain a program.

Does an OST program have to have an academic focus or recreational focus?

Academic support, homework assistance and the like are considered as only one important component of an overall balanced program.

Other aspects of the program may include:

  • physical activity;
  • cultural enrichment and arts opportunities;
  • socialization skills;
  • intellectually challenging activities such as drama, science and math experiences, and
  • group problem-solving options.

Most importantly, the program should be varied and offer choices, focusing on experiential learning.

Is there support for an after-school tutoring program?

An after-school tutoring program is not considered a typical after-school program. The OST program should recognize and address academic support, but only as integrated into a program offering a variety of enrichment activities. Currently, grants to support after school program start-up, or ongoing operational costs are no longer available. Tutoring programs may wish to contact the school administration about possible funding through one of the title programs.

How can a program be designed to keep older children, 4th grade and up, interesting and challenging?

Older children need to be challenged by a wide variety of choices in activities and feel they have a voice in designing and running the program. Involve them, from surveying to actual assistance during program activities, but not so much as to replace staff duties. Bringing in a "club focus" for older children, along with service-learning, may also be helpful.

Are there any limits to how older students (i.e. 4th and 5th grade) assist with activities or other programming?

Older students can work well with the younger students when playing games or getting snacks ready. The older students "enhance" the program atmosphere and events. However, programs must maintain appropriate staff to child ratios and can never count these older children as staff members for ratio needs. Programs must be clear that older children should not perform cleaning or other chore-like duties just to keep them busy. Older youth should never be placed in a role as a disciplinarian for younger children.

Separate, age-appropriate programming for this age group is necessary to keep them involved and excited about coming to the program. "Club" activities can be fun for this age group, along with service learning. It is also beneficial to ask youth for their own ideas.

Can high school students work and be paid as staff in out-of-school time programs?

High school students can work as staff in OST programs. State regulations allow for "site assistants" to be a minimum of 14 years old.

However, if a site is serving children ages 12 and older, the site assistant must be at least 16 years old. When employing high-school students as staff, remember that anyone under 18 years old cannot be left alone with the children. If these high school students are included in the staff-to-child ratio, they must complete the training requirements set out in rule.

Due to the training requirements, we recommend trying to plan for 1 adult (over 18 years old) per 15 students; and utilize high school students as supplemental staff.

What kind of qualifications does a program director need? Does that person need to be a certified teacher? If there are multiple sites, can the site director be non-certified?

The out-of-school time rules do not require any position to hold a teaching certificate. The qualifications for staff members will depend on the responsibilities placed with each position.

This staff person responsible for planning and implementing center activities must meet one of the following qualification requirements:

  • bachelor's degree in the field of education or human development; or
  • valid Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and one year experience in care and supervision of school-age children (in a child care or school-age setting); or
  • valid South Dakota OST credential; or
  • two years college coursework in the field of education, with emphasis in certain areas defined in rule, and one year of experience in care and supervision of school-age children; or
  • four years experience in care and supervision of school-age children.

Of the four qualification options listed above, none specify the need for a teaching certificate. Another important requirement for the qualified staff person is the need to be on site at least 3 hours per week. If this person is responsible for program planning at more than one site, this means the individual must be on site at least 3 hours per week per site.