After-school care programs are lifelines for working parents. But these programs don’t just bridge the gap between the last school bell and the time parents get home from work, they can improve academic performance as well. Studies show that kids in these programs can improve their performance in reading and math, raise their standardized test scores and achieve better school attendance. It’s not just about academics, after-school programs foster a sense of community and belonging for kids. And, of course, parents can rest easy knowing that their child is in a safe and nurturing environment.
The Stroum Jewish Community Center (Mercer Island)
SJCC offers before- and after-school care with its Kidstown program. The J offer a safe space where kids can get homework help, do arts and crafts, or swim in the indoor pool. Kidstown coordinates with the center’s enrichment program and provides transportation. Enrichment activities include Chess Wizards, karate, Snapology (STEM/STEAM), art and soccer. Drop-ins welcome with 24-hour notice.
Samena Swim and Recreation Club (Bellevue)
Samena Swim and Recreation Club is a member-based family club located in the Lake Hills neighborhood of Bellevue. The club offers a state-licensed before- and after-school program for kids in elementary school. This program is unique in that it includes swimming as well as a homework club and many other stimulating activities. The program is available on school break days and follows the Bellevue School District calendar.
ArtSci (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond)
ArtSci's philosophy is that those who study the arts are more likely to excel in academics, social development and self-confidence. The program is focused on four areas: Critical thinking, character development, creative expression and confidence building. With two music rooms, two dance studios and four classrooms, ArtSci goes beyond a typical after-school center. Staff offer homework support, tutoring and professional instruction in the arts including singing, dance, instruments and drama.
Ages: Elementary to middle school
Positive Ally Learning Center (Redmond, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Issaquah)
At the Positive Ally Learning Center, activities are organized around three pillars: homework, sports and extracurricular activities. Students get dedicated homework time and help from certified teachers, along with 30-day study plans to reinforce concepts. The center partners with local coaches and companies to offer team sports and teach basic leadership and sportsmanship skills. By participating in extracurriculars, students can expand the boundaries of intellectual and emotional capabilities through theater, visual art, public speaking and science.
Boys and Girls Clubs of King County (37 locations in King County)
Boys and Girls Clubs provide a safe space for kids from preschool to high school when they aren’t in school. Preschoolers learn with themed weeks and concentrate on social-emotional skills along with physical, cognitive and language skills to set them up for a successful kindergarten experience. Elementary youth can participate in programs that will empower them to excel in school, be good citizens and lead healthy, productive lives. Programs include STEM, arts, leadership training and recreation. Teens have their own club, separate from younger kids, offering a safe space to hang out without fear of peer judgment. Teens can participate in sports, arts, and volunteerism, and connect with caring mentors.
Ages: preschool to high school
PRO Club (Seattle and Bellevue)
PRO Club has an after-school care program called Kids Club for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. With shuttle service from elementary schools, Kids Club is a safe, supervised place for kids. Students get homework assistance, enjoy sports and games, try out robotics or chess, learn to lead in leadership classes, do art and make new friends.
The YMCA of Greater Seattle (Seattle)
The YMCA has partnered with many area school districts, including Seattle Public Schools, to provide enrichment and care for kids before and after school. The Y's Before and After-School Enrichment (BASE) program combines the best of its Child Care and Kids University programs into one. The school enrichment program keeps kids engaged and active in the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. when parents are at work. Kids can hone social-emotional skills and experiment with new activities, including sports, arts, STEM and many other options. The program provides a structure for kids all while encouraging skill-building, creative exploration and physical activity. Check the website to find out which schools are partnered with the YMCA.
City of Seattle Parks and Recreation (Seattle)
Citywide community centers offer Out-of-School Time programs that are coordinated by Seattle Parks and Rec staff. They offer after-school care as well as care for lunchtime, school breaks and summer. Each program works with the school administration to meet the needs of the school population while offering a variety of activities and programs including academics, enrichment and recreation. These are currently offered at Washington Middle School, Aki Kurose Middle School, McClure Middle School, Denny International Middle School, Mercer International Middle School and Northgate Elementary School. More elementary after-school care programs and registration details can be found here.
Ages: elementary to middle school
Outer Space Seattle (Seattle)
West Seattle’s popular play space Outer Space Seattle offers after-school care that elevates care to a galactic level! Kids can climb through a cave on Mars or slide through the solar system in the indoor play area. Play-based learning will spark kids’ interest in STEM and space. Kids socialize, explore, imagine and create with a variety of activities. At Outer Space Seattle, they believe that play is the highest form of research and that kids should be kids. This program only accepts 16 kids per day, so contact them today if you are interested!
Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound (Nine locations in Pierce, Kitsap and Mason Counties)
Boys and Girls Clubs provide a safe, nurturing space for kids from preschool to high school when they aren’t in school. Preschoolers learn with themed weeks and concentrate on social-emotional skills along with physical, cognitive and language to set them up for a successful kindergarten experience. Elementary youth can participate in programs to help them excel in school and be good citizens. Programs include STEM, arts, leadership training and recreation. Teens have their own club, separate from younger kids, offering a space to hang out without fear of judgment. Teens can participate in sports, arts and volunteerism, and connect with caring mentors.
Ages: Check the club in your area for ages served
YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties
The YMCA has partnered with elementary schools in Pierce and Kitsap counties to provide enrichment and care for kids before and after school. The Y's Before and After-School Enrichment (BASE) program combines the best of its Child Care and Kids University programs into one. The school enrichment program is a safe place for kids to stay engaged and active in the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. when parents are at work. Kids can hone social-emotional skills and experiment with new activities, including sports, arts, STEM and many other options.
South Sound YMCA (North Thurston, Olympia, Shelton, Tumwater and Yelm)
The YMCA provides before- and after-school care for the following school districts: North Thurston, Olympia, Shelton and Tumwater. Y Care provides an enriching child-focused, child-directed environment for kids when school isn’t in session. Y Care programs are research-based for supporting social-emotional growth, development, and children’s talents and interests. Check your child’s school for programs and fees.
Discover Champions (Tacoma, Fircrest, Kent, Tukwila and Covington)
Discover Champions offers before- and after-school care that’s not just a place to go after school. Discover Champions has homework help, physical activities and snacks, as well as an array of opportunities for kids to dive into their own interests. Students can explore the arts through painting, drawing, poetry or theater, hone math skills by building bridges, solving math problems and puzzles, experiment with science, or lose themselves in a book at the library.
Childtime (Tacoma, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Covington, Renton, Puyallup and Milton)
Fun, exciting, educational mornings and afternoons await your child here. The five clubs of the My Best Self! program for school-age students focus on goal-setting and reflection, complemented by homework support, team-building opportunities and physical activity. The before-school program, called the Kick Off Club, offers a good start with a morning routine and goal setting. The Challenge Club emphasizes collaboration through games and large group activities. The Grow Fit Club encourages physical activity through gross motor skill activities and physical challenges. Homework Club offers a structured environment and help for completing homework. In the Community Club, students look for what is important in their community and do long-term projects around those things.
Ages: Check the club in your area for ages served
Black Diamond Adventures/Enumclaw Adventures (Black Diamond and Enumclaw)
With locations in Black Diamond and Enumclaw, these before- and after-school programs offer adventure by focusing on outdoor play. There are group activities that emphasize teamwork and cooperation as well as educational field trips. While indoors there is homework help, reading, craft and art projects, puzzles and board games. The Enumclaw location has a large indoor gym for rainy days.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in August 2021, and updated in July 2022.