High quality before- and afterschool programs not only provide safe care while parents are working, but they also augment the learning that takes place during the school day. For elementary students, this care is critical for providing additional extracurricular activities like sports and arts. In addition to providing interesting activities, these programs offer an excellent way to help a child find new friends and integrate into a new school. For older students, this socialization is especially important. In addition, according to the National Afterschool Alliance, high quality afterschool programs also reduce engagement in risky behaviors such as substance use, early sexual exploration, and gang involvement.
Each service branch generally operates accredited centers on their installation sites. The military has the largest number of accredited afterschool programs of any group in the country. Most branches also have partnerships with recognized national providers of afterschool and youth services to extend their offerings. Programs may be offered on the installation or through relationships with local schools. Examples of these are 4-H clubs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Below is a list of what is provided through each service branch. Details about the national groups mentioned above can be found in the Resources section of this guide:
School-age programs (SAP) or full-day care are offered on a weekly basis for full-time working parents and parents enrolled in school full-time on Air Force installations. Summer camps are also offered, as well as respite care programs.
The Army School Age Care Program and Army Youth Program offer before- and afterschool programs during the school year, weekend activities, a comprehensive summer program, and camps during school vacations for children and youth ages 6 to 18. Through formal partnership agreements with several nationally recognized youth-serving organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture, 4-H, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, youth have access to programs, standardized curricula, special events, camps, scholarships, etc., no matter where they live. Army School Age Care and Youth Programs provide predictable, affordable, and quality services that are easily accessible for eligible children and youth on or off post. This is achieved through a comprehensive program framework consisting of four service areas, each area focusing on specific developmental outcomes. The four service areas are Sports, Fitness and Health Options; Life Skills, Citizenship, and Leadership Opportunities; Arts, Recreation, and Leisure Activities; and Academic Support, Mentoring, and Intervention Services. The Army also has a Youth Sponsorship Program that supports youth who move as a result of a parent's Permanent Change of Station. The Army Youth Sponsorship Program not only encompasses relocation support and school transition assistance but also anticipates the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual changes youth experience. In addition to care and activities offered on each installation, the Army partners with local school districts to provide after school activities in the local community. School Age Care Programs are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
The Navy Child and Youth Programs (CYP) provide high quality educational and recreational programs. Teams of caring, knowledgeable professionals plan developmentally appropriate and accredited programs that are responsive to the unique needs, abilities, and interests of children. The Child Development Centers provide full and part-day child care for ages 6 weeks to 5 years, and Child Development Homes provide full and part-day, as well as night and weekend, child care for ages 4 weeks to 12 years. School-Age Care provides before and after school and day camps for ages 6 years to 12 years. Navy also has a Youth Sponsorship Program that provides access to positive peer groups and social activities, helping Navy children feel connected at their new duty station, as well as Youth and Teen Programs that provide sports programs, leisure classes, youth Internet labs, and teen programs for ages 6 years to 18 years. For Navy families that may or may not live close to a military installation where affordable, quality child care opportunities are available or accessible, the Navy currently contracts with national organizations and community partners to support the needs of Navy Active Duty and Reserves parents. Contract spaces are designed to provide subsidized, quality care for members living/working away from military installation infrastructure and to provide additional support around installations.
Partnerships have been established with nationally recognized groups like the Sea Cadets, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to provide afterschool activities.
CYTP will improve the quality of child care in a variety of integrated, balanced, quality programs for eligible children ages 6 weeks to 18 years. Accessibility, availability and affordability are key components of CYTP. These programs are significant to military and civilian personnel's quality of life which is supported via Marine and Family Programs provided aboard Marine Corps installations and through contractual partnerships with public and private organizations. It is the Marine Corps intent to assist in providing children, youth and teen services to support operational readiness, mission accomplishment, and retention.