setting up

STEP 1 - “I would like to set up an after school care”

1.1 Where do I Begin?

By now you will be familiar with the general description of an out of school care (OSC) service and have expressed an interest in setting up one but are unsure how to start.

The first stage is to confirm that there is a need locally for such a service: an OSC service needs a sizeable number of children regularly attending to ensure its survival. If this is not guaranteed then it may be wiser to investigate other childcare possibilities.

1.2 How do I know if there is a need?

The first indicator that there is a need will probably come from personal experience: perhaps you require an OSC for your children but are unable to find anything suitable locally, or perhaps a relative or friend has talked to you about the difficulty of finding care? Have you heard other similar stories? If so, this suggests that there is a demand which is not being met. You now need to undertake some detective work to establish how great the demand.

First of all check what childcare providers are operating locally and if they offer after school care. If no OSC is provided then keep moving forward with your plan. If however OSC is already being provided but parents are unable, or don't want, to access it, you must delve deeper.

Check if the current OSC provision is full to capacity and has a waiting list. If so, you will want to determine if this is a short or long-term situation. If it is short-term then you may not wish to start another service but use this one when spaces are available and use some other form of stop-gap care in the interim. Setting up an OSC service takes time and energy and should not be undertaken lightly: if a quality service is already in existence but temporarily unavailable it may make sense to wait for places to become available.

If it proves to be a long-term situation, then it is highly possible that the current childcare provider has recognised this and has plans to expand the service. It should be kept in mind that this provider will probably be in such a position that it will be quicker and easier for them to expand than for you to set up a brand-new service. Additionally, this childcare provider has the advantage of having an established and already successful business with a good reputation whereas you will have to start from scratch. Although not impossible to compete with, the tendency will be for parents to use the established service rather than the new and untested one. Talk to the childcare provider and see if they are thinking of expanding; if they are not then go ahead with your plans for developing a service.

If on the other hand an OSC is already in operation and has spaces available it does not mean that you should not go ahead with your plans: it may be that parents are choosing not to use the service due to poor quality. It may be that the area is in need of a quality out of school care, exactly what you are planning on creating!

Once you have a clear picture of local OSC provision, it might be worth contacting your Local Authority to see if they offer any financial assistance or can provide any valuable local knowledge. Depending on which Local Authority you are situated, there could be assistance in terms of rent relief if basing your service within a school or other council owned building. Responsibility for childcare usually lies within council Education or Communities Departments. Furthermore, there may be an active out of school care network in your area that you can join in order to gain knowledge of training and other support.

last updated: 29/11/2023