A mission statement is a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. As you work to set up child care seasons for 2018, what is your program’s mission statement and does the surrounding community know about it?

It may seem obvious what the mission statement is for an after school child care program, meeting the needs of children within the surrounding community, but people will have different ideas of what its main purpose is. Parents may be thinking that the sole purpose of the program is to make sure children are safe. Teachers may think the program should meet the academic needs of children. Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director thought that after school programs are supposed “to help kids who can’t – who don’t get fed at home, get fed so that they do better at school.” Every person has their own perception of what the purpose of afterschool programs are. So, how do you come up with a firm mission statement that leaves no room for personal interpretation?

Invite others to join you in creating a mission statement. You could invite the program administrator, coordinators, site staff, teachers, community members, parents, and students. You’ll want to include anyone that this program will impact, but also cap the group at 30 people to make sure it’s a more efficient process. If you want to be even more successful, invite community leaders such as the mayor, police chief, etc.

Once your group is established, here are some steps on working together to craft that mission statement based loosely on Nonprofit Hub’s “A Step-by-step Exercise for Creating a Mission Statement”:

Step 1: Break into Small Groups

Break your large group into smaller groups. Make sure that each group has a good mixture of community, staff, and family members. Ask each group to discuss among themselves stories of afterschool or child care programs they have participated in. If they have never participated in one of these programs, ask them to tell a story of what they imagine it to be like. Have one member of the small group write down the important parts of the stories, the most impactful activities, places, and people.

Step 2: Story Sharing

Have all the small groups come back into one large group. Each small group will share their stories and what things within the stories had the biggest impact on the groups’ lives, well-being, education, etc. You’ll start to see common ideas come through the stories. Write these common ideas on a board for the whole group to see. Also write on the board the main elements that make up a mission statement:

  1. The CAUSE: who, what, and where?
  2. The ACTIONS: what does the program do?
  3. The IMPACT: changes for the better?

Step 3: Mission Statement Creation

Now, split back into small groups so that each group can craft a mission statement. When all the groups have crafted at least one mission statement of ten words or less, bring all the small groups together in a large group to share their mission statements. As a group, pick the top three and then put it to a vote.

Step 4: Promote Your Mission Statement

The last and biggest step of all, PROMOTE YOUR MISSION STATEMENT. Put it on your website, mention it in newsletters, tell the local media, put it on staff t-shirts, shout it from the mountains. When utilizing the program staff, families, and community members, it helps insure that everyone will be able to understand your program’s mission and help educate others of the true cause of your child care program. When everyone works as a team, great things happen. It could open new opportunities for expansion and growth.