Parent Safety Resources - The Right Afterschool Care Environment

How to Ensure Your Childs Afterschool Care Environment is the Right Place for Your Child

Babysitters, tutors, daycare providers, after-school programs, and other caregivers can all play an important role in the lives of children and parents. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to find the person or facility that will be the right fit for your child. Below are a few tips and ideas for evaluating childcare providers.

Tips for Screening Individuals/Caregivers

  • Ask a potential caregiver to go through a background check. A background check will not find all perpetrators, as many perpetrators of child sexual abuse are not known about or reported to law enforcement, but a background check can be a good place to start. 
  • Search for the caregiver online. Some caregivers have reviews, legal records, or other information available publicly online or on social media. This can give you an idea of their past work, personality, and professionalism.
  • Reach out to multiple people who have worked with them in the past. Ask questions about their experience with the caregiver, how the caregiver interacted with their coworkers or the children in their care, and whether they would recommend that caregiver to someone else.
  • Check sex offender registries. These registries are lists of convicted sexual offenders in a state or local area. Sex offender registries give you the offender’s address, a description of how they look, and their criminal history. The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) has a full list of sex offender registries around the country. 
  • Spend time with your child and the caregiver together. Your caregiver should be comfortable with your child when you are around, and vice versa.

Tips for Screening Organizations: Ask the organization’s staff and leadership these questions to evaluate the organization’s ability to care for your child: 

  • “Do you have the licenses, certifications, and training that your area, city, or state requires?” Your local city or county should keep a list of all certified service providers in your area that can help you find qualified organizations.
  • “Can I tour your facilities?” Visit and walk around the places where the organization would care for your child to see if they are clean, well-cared for, and safe. Youth-serving organizations should create safe environments for children. Ask staff if they have steps in place to make sure that only approved staff and adults are able to spend time with the children. 
  • “What is the process for responding if a child, staff member, or parent reports child abuse or has noticed signs of an inappropriate relationship or interaction at the organization?” Make sure that they take all reports and suspicions seriously and have important steps in place to protect children.  
  • “What hiring and training practices do staff have to go through?” Ask if the organization conducts background checks on all new employees. Some organizations also require that all staff have specific degrees, certifications, or training. Use this information to compare staff qualifications at different organizations to make sure that your child receives the best care. You can also ask if their employees are trained in noticing and reporting signs of child sexual abuse. 
  • “How many staff do you have? How many children is each staff member assigned to look after?” Get an idea of how many employees and staff the organization has in general. Depending on the type and location of the facility, the organization may have to follow specific child-to-staff ratios. Low child-to-staff ratios help to ensure that each child’s needs are being met. For more information, see
  • “Do you have clear sign-in and sign-out procedures?” Set clear boundaries with the organization about who can sign your child in and out of the program.
  • “Can children and staff be seen by others at all times?” Ask what steps the organization has taken to make sure that children are never unsupervised, and that one child is never alone with one staff member.
  • “How do you handle communication with parents?” Find out how often and for what reasons staff reach out to parents.

Identify Appropriate Behaviors: Child sexual abuse rarely begins with assault; usually, it begins with behavior that is very subtle, but is meant to test and push the victim’s boundaries. This process is called grooming. The following behaviors may be warning signs that  someone is grooming your child:

  • Showering your child with inappropriate gifts. This is intended to gain the victim’s trust. It’s also inappropriate because it can make your child feel indebted and creates a power imbalance.
  • Showing an inappropriate preference for your child. Perpetrators will often target a child because they think they are      vulnerable in some way.   
  • Offering to help the family. A perpetrator may try to gain the child’s family’s trust while looking for access to alone time with the child. This could involve offers to babysit, give rides, tutor, or pay for the child’s expenses. 
  • Testing your child’s boundaries or your own boundaries. Once a perpetrator has the target’s trust, they may try to see what they can get away with before escalating the inappropriate behavior. These boundary violations may be physical, technological, emotional, conversational, or sexual. 
  • Isolating your child emotionally. Some perpetrators may try to control a victim by convincing them that they can’t trust anyone else, and this allows the abuse to continue. This could sound like:
    • “If you tell anyone, I will go to jail.”
    • “Your parents don’t understand you like I do.”
    • “Our family will get broken up if you tell your mom.”

You can help deter inappropriate behavior by setting clear boundaries with adults who work with your child and encouraging your child to communicate their boundaries as well.