Dear Pro Action Friends:
Our community is facing an URGENT NEED to expand child care to meet the need for children and youth to attend virtual classes away from school this school year, while their parents might still need to go to work. We surveyed 351 parents throughout the county specifically about child care this fall and found that only a little more than half have a plan in place for child care for September, as of August 24th. Of the parents who wanted more information to help them make plans, 70% said they want more information about child care on days their child is virtually learning outside of the school building.
It is crucially important for both children and older youth to have supervised, safe environments where they can learn when their parents are at work. Plus, it is essential for student learning that they attend classes every day, and have support from an adult to be fully engaged when learning remotely. Our child care and youth programs aren’t currently set up to serve the high volume of young people who now need their services. Capacity must expand to provide relief for families worried about how to care for their children while they are not in school buildings.
WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT:
Pro Action Kids On Track with key partner Child Care Aware® of Steuben and Schuyler is coordinating efforts in Steuben County as follows:
- Connect families with existing child care options. As always, families seeking child care should call Child Care Aware 776-2126 and speak with Michelle Smith.
- Expand child care and youth programs into donated spaces (churches, fire halls, etc.). This means that experienced programs will oversee the activities taking place in donated spaces, will orient the volunteers, and will manage all COVID-19 protocols necessary for everyone’s safety. This involves working closely with local funders to keep costs at a minimum for parents.
- Provide useful information to parents considering parent pods. Many parents are considering teaming up with other families to oversee children on virtual learning days. Child Care Aware hosted an information session recently, and we have developed this fact sheet that lays out everything to think about when considering caring for other people’s children.
- Expand internet connectivity. We are working with existing community groups (STN, Libraries) addressing the digital divide with the goal of helping to quickly get virtual learning sites, neighborhoods and homes connected to adequate internet to support virtual learning.
- Provide material support for virtual learning. Students are going to need certain things to be able to learn effectively in the hybrid model being used in many districts. The list includes: masks and pouches or bags for storing used and fresh masks, ear buds, water bottles, insulated lunch bags, and binders.
WE NEED EVERYONE’S HELP!
- We are ACTIVELY recruiting organizations to donate the use of their space. Act Fast! Time is not on our side. Interested organizations can fill out this Site Host Interest Form, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (Hint, the form will answer some of your questions.)
- We are actively recruiting youth mentors and staff to supervise learning at these sites. Child Care and Youth program partners will recruit minimum necessary staff. Interested volunteers can fill out this Volunteer Interest Form, or contact email@example.com. (Hint, the form will answer some of your questions.) Hurry! There’s not a lot of time.
- We need organizations or groups to plan collection drives and create kits that include: masks and pouches or bags for storing used and fresh masks, ear buds, water bottles, insulated lunch bags, and binders. We will get these kits to children using community based virtual learning sites. We presently have at least 200 children ready to enroll in these sites. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION TO THIS URGENT NEED!
There was already a shortage of child care in our communities before the pandemic. The closing and partial closing of schools for this length of time is something nobody could have predicted. We do need our whole community to pull together to support children and families during this highly unusual time. THANK YOU FOR STEPPING UP!
Questions can be directed to:
Margie Lawlor, Pro Action