Ahead of potential school closures, child care options may be low

SPOKANE, Wash. — Parents across the Inland Northwest are bracing for news that could mean a scramble for child care.

As of right now, no schools in our region are cancelled, but that could change at any time. Schools are getting their directions from the Spokane Regional Health District.

Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday school districts in three counties in the greater Seattle area will be closed for six weeks.

RELATED: Inslee orders all greater Seattle area schools to close

RELATED: Spokane Schools restricts activities involving more than 250 people

Moving school online for grade-school children might not be optional like it is for colleges.

“Not all 53,000 students have online access or a device, a computer, so if we can’t provide that online learning for all of our students, then we can’t,” said Tim Robinson, a spokesperson with Seattle Public Schools.

There are a lot of kids in the Spokane area in the same situation, plus many who rely on schools for lunch. That would mean it is more than just figuring out how to keep kids busy.

If school were to be cancelled, there aren’t many options for parents.

4 News Now called around to a few different child care centers Thursday in the Spokane area, some said they are full.

With that news, if schools do close, it might be tough for parents to find someone to watch their children.

Just Imagine Child Care Center in north Spokane is one center who is full and also has a waiting list. There staff watch more than 100 children.

“I personally would stay open. I would try and stay open as long as possible,” said Monique Seldon, the owner of Just Imagine Child Care Center.

Seldon’s child care center normally closes during snow days when Spokane Schools also close. But in the case of the coronavirus, she wants to try and keep her doors open for the families she serves.

“There are still families that have to work and need childcare, so it just depends day to day what the situation looks like. I’ve spoke with quite a few medical professionals and just as long as we’re taking the precautions in cleaning and handwashing,” Seldon said.

The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery takes in children in case of an emergency, but they also have limitations. It can only take a max of 24 kids up to 12 years old. Also, if someone is in need of help, they advise calling 24 hours in advanced.

“We are just being prepared for the fact that there’s an influx of calls from people and really just looking at how we screen families when they do call and making sure we’re not openly bringing the virus into our organization,” said Amy Vega, the executive director of Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.

The mission of Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursey is to prevent child abuse and neglect, leaving kids in the care of someone you may not know so well could lead to that.

“We’d rather much have a family call us and say ‘I don’t have care because of school’ or ‘Because a daycare is closed or a school is closed for the day,” Vega said. “We’d rather much have families call here and ask to leave their children with us than leaving them with a next door neighbor or a boyfriend they don’t know very well, or a caregiver who’s not really used to caring for young children.”

Bottom line: Parents might want to think of alternative options if schools close down.

RELATED: All closures and cancellations amid COVID-19 outbreak