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Benefits of before and after school programs for children


Kate Artmann

NORTH VALLEY – Not only do before and after school programs provide care for children, but they also give children the opportunity to learn important skills. As the new school year begins, many parents are seeking options for before and after school programs, and multiple options are available.

Heather Turner, Education and Community Services Child Care Coordinator of Cave Creek Unified School District, believes that before and after school programs increase academic success, prevent emotional and behavioral issues, and improve leadership skills.

“Afterschool programs provide a safe place to be without parents where kids can learn, make friends and create an extended family to fall back on and trust when they need it,” Turner said.

The “Kid’s Club” program offered in Cave Creek is focused on project-based learning. Children from preschool through sixth grade can participate in a variety of activities such as art, science, construction, dramatic play, brain games, and reading.

According to Turner, the Sanford Harmony Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum is an important component to the program. It teaches students how to interact with one another and regulate their emotions.

“We try to use social and emotional learning strategies in all aspects of the program, but especially during our welcome time in the morning, announcement time in the afternoon and larger projects, stories and games on our many early release days where have plenty of time to dive into the curriculum,” Turner said. 

This year, the program will be following the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards that are endorsed by the National Afterschool Association.

“This will include making sure our breakfast and snack menus are filled with healthy choices, that the students get plenty of physical activity and that the staff are not only teaching these lessons but modeling them as well,” Turner said.

The staff receives at least 18 hours of training per year. They are taught First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Crisis Prevention.

Eva Harlow, Program Supervisor for Before and After School Programs of Deer Valley Unified School District, believes that providing a safe environment for children is important.

“It is in these programs that we can positively impact youth development through social skills and activities, community service opportunities, problem solving skills, and mentoring youth into becoming independent thinking adults,” Harlow said.

Before and after school programs in Deer Valley offer homework help, group games, arts and crafts, hands-on science and STEM opportunities, and quiet areas for reading.

If you are interested in working with children, Deer Valley Unified School District is looking for qualified individuals to work in their before and after school programs. You can apply on or contact Eva Harlow at for more information.

Cave Creek Unified School District is also looking for part-time Program Leaders for their before and after school programs. You can apply or get more information on