Child care centers prepare for increase in need as schools reopen remotely

SPOKANE, Wash. – As some school districts in eastern Washington announce they’re starting off with remote learning, it’ll be tough for full-time working parents. Child care facilities are bracing for an increase in need in the next few weeks.

When schools went to distance learning in the spring, some child care centers 4 News Now spoke to say they thought they’d see an increase.

They didn’t.

That’s partially because parents had to start working remotely, too. However, come this fall, child care centers like the YMCA are preparing for anything.

It’s always been about the kids, making sure they get the education they need, along with getting the care they deserve. However, in order for kids to learn from home, parents need to be home.

That’s not always possible.

The YMCA is trying to figure out how to help parents while kids are learning remotely.

“I anticipate an increase in need. I think it’s going to be different than what we’ve seen before, because there’s typically, during the school year, there’s not any full day care,” said Connie Reynolds, the child care programs executive at YMCA.

Meaning at YMCA’s already established child care, they haven’t had to teach kids like a structured school day does – let alone groups of kids who attend different school districts.

“We haven’t heard from all of our school districts yet. What our plan is to have full day programming for them which would include some learning activity. So, we’ll have dedicated learning time, as well as physical fitness and arts and crafts and stem activities,” Reynolds said.

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The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery says it’s operations will remain the same, taking kids in for child care in emergencies.

The executive director says she knows parents will really need their help once school starts.

“Just helping them navigate: How do they continue to work and earn a paycheck? Navigate their children and now the extra component of how do they navigate school in real time? Which I think will be a little of a challenge,” said Amy Vega, the executive director of the crisis nursery.

Spokane Public Schools is currently operating two full-time child care centers out of two schools called Express. It has 80 spots in total, and there is a fee. The district says it’s planning to continue and expand that for parents who may be interested.

They’re also looking into a day camp type model for families and teachers with school age children. Costs for this option are still being determined.

The district is also working with some child care partners in the community to help reduce costs for families in need. For parents who can’t afford child care, there is state assistance to get child care at little or no cost. You can find more information here.

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