The Birth of a Field

Posted October 6, 2020
By Shed Children's Campus

Celebrating Michelle Seligson

The Grassroots Leader of After School Programming

Michelle (Micki) Seligson has been nationally recognized as a leader in afterschool and in childcare policy and practice. In 1978, she founded the School-Age Childcare Project, which became the National Institute on Out-of-School  Time (NIOST) at Wellesley College.  

To commemorate NIOST’s 40th anniversary, she sat down with Georgia Hall, director and senior research scientist at NIOST, to talk about how observation of exemplary practices became guidance for an emerging field. 

I remember, when I left Brookline, somebody said, “Oh, you won’t get anyone’s interest in afterschool. Nobody’s interested in that.” I’m glad I didn’t listen to the naysayers.

40 years later…

The Afterschool Alliance estimates that 10.2  million children are enrolled in afterschool programs and that for every child in a program there are two who are waiting to get in.

Her  landmark book School-Age Child Care:  An Action Manual was published  in 1982, At the time, she wrote, “This  book will help you design, develop,  implement, and operate a program for the school-age child.”

Michelle interviewed leaders of what she called  “exemplary programs.” Based on her research in the interviews, she developed the book.

She says, “What was different about this process was that these were grassroots efforts at organizing and providing afterschool programming;  these were parents, community groups, women’s groups, citizen groups who knew that there had to be something in the afternoons for kids. We deconstructed what they did. We outlined and documented everything told to us, from needs assessment to implementation and everything in between. Nobody had ever written anything like that before about afterschool programs.  We quickly sold 10,000 copies.”

We are proud to say that SHED Children’s Campus was one of the “exemplary programs” Michelle interviewed and documented. 

Read the full interview here and discover how this mother grew her small childcare program in Brookline, MA into a nationally recognized organization that spearheaded the birth of a field and multiple federal policy changes.