Remember the line in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come” – we’re sure you have figured out by now that just because you built your child care program, doesn’t mean people are coming to support it.

We’d all love it if real life was like the movies, but we have to work a little harder to make the magic happen. And all that hard work makes achieving our goals a little sweeter. You’ve built a great program and now you’ll have to work hard to promote it so that it is supported by the surrounding community. Here are some tips to promote your before and after school program.

Go to PTO Meetings—Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) are a great way to get to know some of the parents in your school community and their meetings typically happen once a month. There also may be opportunities for you to tap into the PTO for volunteers. By joining this meeting, you help the parents understand what your program provides, and you can advertise your program in PTO emails or at PTO sponsored events.

Get Mentioned in School Newsletters—Talk with the staff that puts together the school newsletter, whether it’s daily, monthly, or quarterly. Make sure that your program is featured. Do feature articles about what your program is incorporating to make sure it’s meeting the needs of the children. Invite the school community to your program’s open houses and events.

Send Emails/Videos to Local News Outlets—Invite a journalist to tour your program, provide a behind the scenes exclusive. You need to show them that it’s not just a chaotic gymnasium, but that the children are learning and succeeding more. Be open to share the successes and the challenges.

Whether your program has been in existence for 20+ years or your program is just starting, there is no such thing as too much exposure. Even if you have already worked with one or more of these resources, keep in contact with them. Working with the community around you can create partnerships, provide a launch pad to a better program, and help increase awareness of the difference a great before and after school program can make.