Parents sending their kids to before- and after-school programming at three local elementaries could receive some assistance.
Child Care Network recently learned it is among the recipients of a grant from the School-Age Child Care Project Fund, which was announced by Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.
The grants, which total more than $1.53 million, went to 22 public school corporations or nonprofit organizations that offer care to school-age children, before or after the school day and when school is not in session. The recipients were chosen from a competitive field and represent 41 school-age child care sites in 14 Indiana counties.
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The grants supplement program costs in four areas: Program enrichment, equipment, staffing and development.
Child Care Network is a nonprofit organization that consists of a dedicated group of Jackson County residents focused on improving the lives of children. Its programs include Kids Klub, Jackson County Guardian Ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocates and preschools.
The $78,934 grant will benefit Kids Klub programs at Margaret R. Brown, Seymour-Jackson and Seymour-Redding elementary schools for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.
Child Care Network has received the grant funding since the 2010-11 school year, Executive Director Kate Garrity said.
“We were fully funded this time, so we got every dollar we asked for, so that’s exciting,” she said.
“Sometimes, child care is a big obstacle between parents being able to work. Sometimes, you feel like, ‘I’m working just to pay for child care,’” she said. “We want to be able to offer the service. We don’t want kids going home alone and being in an empty house.”
The money will mainly cover staffing costs, Garrity said. Each of the three schools has between two and four staff members, who are employees of Child Care Network.
The grant also allows the organization to provide before- and after-school care on a sliding scale fee for parents who qualify.
“The way it’s designed is to help parents until they can maybe qualify for child care vouchers that could pay for it, so it’s just supposed to be that waiting period to help supplement that,” Garrity said.
Parents have to be working or in school to qualify for the reduced weekly rate. If a parent sends their child to before- and after-school programming five days a week, it would typically cost $50.
“We could get that down quite a bit for families that qualify. It just depends on their income,” Garrity said. “Especially for parents in school or just starting out in a job, that would definitely help.”
To find out if they qualify, parents should contact the Child Care Network office and schedule a meeting with Kids Klub manager Rhonda O’Neal.
“Rhonda has a chart, and they just bring in their pay stubs and proof of income, and then she can see where they fall on the chart, and it will tell her how much,” Garrity said.
She said the Child Care Network board is dedicated to providing services for families that need it, so the grant funding allows that to happen.
“We want to provide care for any child that needs it to the best of our ability,” Garrity said. “I can bring a family to them and say, ‘Dad has lost his job, and so they don’t qualify for this funding, but they are really struggling,’ so we’ve used board-designated funds. Or if kids go to other schools that aren’t part of this grant, we have board-designated funds we just do on a case-by-case basis.”
Garrity also appreciates the support of the school corporation.
“We have a wonderful relationship with the school system,” she said. “It is amazing that they let us do these programs. It’s a great partnership.”
Garrity said there are around 90 students ages 5 to 14 in Kids Klub at Brown, Jackson and Redding elementary schools. It’s offered from 6 a.m. until school starts and then from the time school ends to 6 p.m. It’s still available if school starts on a delay, but it’s closed on snow days.
Staff members plan the activities based on what kids want to do.
“The mornings are more mellow because the kids aren’t quite up and at ‘em yet, so they might play some quiet games and things like that,” Garrity said. “The afternoons, we’ll do homework time. I know as a working parent, it’s wonderful if we can get home and the homework is already done, so we try our best to get that done. Then we’ll do some crafts and some enrichment activities.”
Kids Klub is fun and educational for the students, Garrity said.
“We have lesson plans that the kids will think they are just having fun and playing around, but they are learning at the same time,” she said. “Hopefully, we can try to reinforce some of those lessons that they learn during the day, some hands-on science and stuff like that. Then they do crafts and play games and go outside on the playground. We get gym time when we can. We just try to get creative with how we can get that energy out.”
Parents like Kids Klub because it’s located in their child’s school, Garrity said.
“It’s a familiar setting. They don’t have to go anywhere else,” she said. “Especially for our parents with younger kiddos — kindergarten, first grade — there’s that comfort that they might be worried about them getting on a bus and going somewhere else since they are so little. We have quite a few younger kiddos in the program.”
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For information about Kids Klub, call 812-569-4411.