Spokane Public Schools details child care options for families and staff

SPOKANE, Wash. – Parents figuring out back to school plans are torn. They’re having to choose between staying home for kids to learn or make a living to put a roof over their heads.

Spokane Public Schools came up with a few options for its teachers and parents who may need that help in the next few weeks.

Kate Makinson is just one mom of many others who are struggling to figure out what to do with their kids this fall.

“We knew that trying to balance two full time jobs and two young children is a challenge,” she said.

She and her husband were looking for babysitters and nannies for quite some time, but it’s been hard.

Makinson is also a teacher at a Spokane school. She’s just now learning about the options the district will be offering.

“In order for us to be able to love the children that are in our classrooms, we also need support with our own kids as well,” she said.

Right now the school district operates two child care sites called Express.

There are about 40 kids in each center and four staff members. The center runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., for parents who need it before and after a normal work day.

With Express, this fall, students would be getting help from staff to connect with teachers and do assignments for remote learning. There would also be lunch and recess breaks.

That would be the same for the next option, which SPS is calling day camp. However, day camp would only be for six to seven hours a day and is available for kids in grades kindergarten through sixth.

So, what’s the difference between having the day camp as opposed to having students back in buildings to learn in-person, again?

It would be the amount of students in a school.

Dr. Mark Anderson, the associate superintendent with SPS, says there would only be a max of 40 kids at each day camp site with four staff members.

“It’s a way of trying to help those families, who are working families, who might find it difficult to have their students home if they’re not there, providing a safe environment for that,” Anderson said. “But, it’s much different than school where we have 5 to 600 students per elementary school and 700 to 2,000 students per middle and high school.”

Child care centers 4 News Now spoke with in the past say child cares have strict rules and guidelines they have to follow compared to schools. Anderson said Express staff are trained under child care guidelines as it is licensed day care center.

The day camp will also be staffed by Express workers

There will also be a fee for both Express and the day camps.

The district is working with some community partners in providing scholarships so some families can get child care for free. This would have to be through applications. More day camps will be added in the future, if there is more interested, Anderson said.

The third option SPS is offering is called learning centers.

Students in grades kindergarten through eighth would be able to go to a community organization, like a library, and work with school staff to get connected to internet and get assignments done in two to three hour periods.

“This would be a program for anyone who has internet difficulty, capability,” Anderson said.

Lastly, the district is working with other community child care providers to help parents find the help they need.

Anderson says they will have more detailed plans next week, and will have registration sign-ups for parents who are interested.

You can find more information about the child care options here.