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Staffing the Program

Program Director
Strong leadership is essential for a successful afterschool program. After your planning committee has developed a vision for the program, the focus will shift to program leadership. It is important to put together a team to oversee the leadership of the program. This team, typically called a Management Team, should include leaders from the school and partnering organization(s), including members of the planning committee.

One of the first tasks of the Management Team should be to hire a program director. The following steps will assist the committee in the development of the program director’s position description and the hiring process:

  • Appoint the program director’s supervisor. This person (or persons) should be involved in the steps outlined below. This supervisor will also review the program director’s job performance.
  • Establish the program director responsibilities.
  • Determine the qualifications necessary to fulfill job responsibilities (e.g., education level, certifications, experience). The vision of your program will guide you in this step.
  • Develop a job description. This may include desired qualifications, responsibilities, supervisor, length of employment, salary range, and instructions for applying for the position.
  • Launch the search for the candidate. Consider recruiting through community partners, the school district/lead organization, newspaper advertisements or internet advertisements.
  • Determine 8-10 program director interview questions. It is recommended you have more than one person on the interview committee. For school-based programs, the principal should have a role in this process. Use the same questions for each interview. Be sure to allow the candidates an opportunity to ask questions.

Afterschool Program Staff
Once the program director is hired, he/she will lead a team effort to recruit, hire and supervise the program staff. The team may consist of representatives from the school, partnering community organizations, community members, and family members.

The following checklist will assist in organizing the process:

  • Recruit qualified staff members to work in the afterschool program. Your recruiting efforts will vary depending on the size of your program, type of programming, and budget.
    • School staff are excellent recruits for the afterschool program. Seek out staff with a great reputation with students for being caring, fun and engaging. These staff will draw students to your program. Also, seek staff based on the type of program you have. The program might benefit from having the art teacher or physical education teacher lead enrichment clubs. Consider recruiting classroom teachers or reading specialists to assist with tutoring or homework help. If you have students with special needs, the paraprofessionals who work with the students during the school day might be excellent resources.
    • Staff from community organizations might be interested in working in the program. For example, the local librarian might be interested in offering reading or writing programs afterschool. Or, staff from the city park and recreation department might be available to lead recreational programs during the afterschool or summer program.
    • College students would also make excellent program staff. Students studying education could assist with homework help or tutoring. You could seek students from specialized departments based on your programming needs. For example, students in the fine arts department may be able to offer music clubs or dance programs.
  • Develop a job description for program staff that will include qualifications, program staff responsibilities, hours, wages and instructions for applying for the position.
  • Develop a policies and procedures manual for all staff, developed in collaboration with the school and partnering organizations. Topics might include schedules, required paperwork, recruitment, hiring practices, wages, employment laws, attendance/absences, cell phone usage, benefits, leave, holidays, vacation, breaks, attire, staff development, job descriptions, employee conduct, evaluations, resignations, promotions, safety procedures, drug-free and tobacco free policies, communication systems, discrimination/harassment prevention, and complaint procedures. You may want to refer to the school district manual for guidance and to ensure alignment.
  • Determine 8-10 program staff interview questions. It is beneficial to have more than one person on the interviewing committee. Use the same questions for each interview. Be sure to allow time for the candidates to ask questions.
  • Provide an orientation for new staff and create and implement plans for ongoing professional development.

Volunteers are an excellent way to enrich your afterschool program by providing additional adults who develop can relationships with students, provide unique educational opportunities, and allow connections to the community.

  • Similar to hiring staff, it is important to recruit qualified volunteers. Seeking the assistance of family members, school staff, retirees, or other qualified individuals is a great way to recruit volunteers for your program.
  • Develop a volunteer job description so you can be clear on what the role will entail. It is important for volunteers to know what they are committing to as they are sharing a valuable resource: their time and efforts. There are many types of volunteer activities in afterschool: assisting with snack time, homework help, board games, cards, playground supervision, as well as leading academic activities or enrichment clubs. Make sure that your volunteers are qualified to perform the tasks they are assigned to complete.
  • Interview volunteers. While they are not paid staff members, an interview will help you learn about their background and interests. It will also offer the candidate an opportunity to ask questions. This will ensure that the candidate is a good fit for the position.
  • Provide an orientation and professional development opportunities for volunteers. You can modify your staff orientation and professional development or include volunteers in the same process, if applicable.
  • Document volunteer time. Although volunteers are not paid for work, you may use the information when applying for grants requiring matching funds.
  • Appreciate your volunteers. This can include positive feedback, thank you cards, and recognition certificates. Get students engaged in the appreciation efforts. For example, students could write thank you cards or assist in planning and leading an appreciation event.


American Institutes for Research

Afterschool Training Toolkit

Beyond the Bell: A Toolkit for Creating Effective Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs

Foundations, Inc.
This organization is committed to improving educational experiences for children and youth. Foundations, Inc. supports those who enhance the lives and prospects of our most vulnerable children.

Updated July 8, 2024 4:57pm