One of the reasons residents move to Columbia and Howard County is because it’s a desirable place to raise a family. The schools are rated highly, the library system is award-winning, the community is beautiful, crime is low, the economy is strong, and we are close enough for people to commute to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Fort Meade and elsewhere in the region.

Columbia Association (CA) strives to make life easier for working parents, both during the school year before parents arrive home, after the work day when parents may want to relax or work out, and in summertime when parents are seeking fun, safe and creative ways to keep their kids occupied.

One of CA’s most popular services during the school year is our Before and After School Care program, which provides safe, professional, convenient and affordable child care in 19 elementary schools and three middle schools. We serve more than 1,800 children and go well beyond mere babysitting — there is a daily curriculum with a mix of activities, all geared to the individual developmental needs of each child. More information can be found at

Another gem in Columbia that we wish even more people took advantage of is CA’s Youth and Teen Center, at The Barn in Oakland Mills, a place where teens can socialize and participate in recreational and educational programs after school and on off days. But know that the center isn’t just a place to hang out. The Youth and Teen Center provides strong mentorship to help with life skills through programs like the Boys II Men Club, For G.I.R.L.S. Only and the Chess Club, which brings the youth and teens together with members of the Howard County Police Department. Amazingly, the Youth and Teen Center’s drop-in program is just $40 a year. More information can be found at

When parents get off work they may want to head to a fitness club or the spa, but might not have anyone to watch their kids at home. That’s why CA offers KidSpace interactive play areas in Columbia Athletic Club, Columbia Gym, Haven on the Lake and Supreme Sports Club. KidSpace is for children between 6 months and 13 years old, with amenities and structured programs tailored to each facility; parents can use KidSpace for up to two hours per day. KidSpace can be accessed for a drop-in fee; 1Fit and CA Fit&Play members can also choose to add a KidSpace membership; and KidSpace is free for Golf Fit&Play members. More information can be found at

When schools are out, for the day or for the entire summer, CA is here to help. CA has School’s Out day programs at several facilities, and CA’s summer camps are the perfect way for you to make sure your children return home each day with smiles on their faces. Our annual Camps Guide can be found at

Yet, we also want parents and their kids to be able to enjoy time together. This summer is a perfect time for families to spend time at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront for the Lakefront Summer Festival, with 23 free movies and 50 free concerts scheduled this year — including four Teen Open Mic nights. No other community has this much free programming nearly every night of the summer. The full schedule can be found at There are so many reasons why this is a wonderful place to raise a family. We at CA are proud to provide many of those reasons.

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