Organizations across the Tri-Cities offering child care options ahead of virtual start to school year

Keeping Schools Safe

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – With school districts deciding to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, it’s posing problems for working parents.

Parents of younger students are now forced to either stay at home while their child participates in remote classes, or search for alternative child care options. Luckily, options do exist. A number of organizations across the Tri-Cities are stepping up, altering their regular child care schedule, and providing much-needed assistance during this difficult time.

Coalition For Kids (C4K) is just one of a few facilities altering their operations and hours to help working families during this trying time.

They will be open starting on August 10th for children to participate in virtual learning with their teachers.

“In between homework and classwork or the Zoom call, we will be doing everything from extra reading to homework to free time and to playtime,” said Randy Hensley, director of Coalition for Kids.

C4K has been around for 21 years and stepped up during the pandemic to give over 6,100 meals to families during the pandemic. Through the help of a local organization making a donation of $50,000, feeding all of those families was made possible.

They also opened facilities June-July for summer programming with social distancing, masks, and other safety measures put in place. While they serve primarily low-income families at no cost, Hensley said they will open their services to the public once they offer their current population the opportunity to sign up.

For Hensley, it means the world that he can help families during this tough time.

“When times get hard, that’s when you stand together. That’s when you don’t walk away,” he said.

However, just because services are provided at no cost, doesn’t mean that there is no cost to keep running. C4K runs on donations and if you can help during this time, it’s greatly appreciated.

For more information on how to register or donate, visit their website. They plan to accept 150 kids into their program ranging from ages 6-13.

The Boys and Girls Club of Washington County and Johnson City is also altering their hours to better help parents.

While this year is unique, Robin Crumley, the president & CEO of the local Boys and Girls Club, said she has been in constant communications with the area school districts.

Due to the shift to online classes, they will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting August 3rd. Normally this time of the year, they are focusing solely on their aftercare program, but this year, parents and students both need help.

Crumley said the program will be focused on academics to help better assist children with their schoolwork and the new style of learning. While they can only take up to 72 students, they hope to accommodate more in any way they can.

“Because of the virtual schedule, a child may only need 2 to 3 days of that week and that opens up two spots of that 72 so we look to try and serve over 100 kids,” said Crumley.

They plan to operate under these new hours as long as necessary with plans as of right now to go through December. As of this past summer, they have already implemented and have been following strengthened safety measures.

So far, they are almost full but are still taking calls to register for the fall camp.

Officials with Johnson City Schools are also assisting in this matter through their “Educare” program.

“We look at this as an opportunity to serve the community and provide them with a really important resource and service,” said Dr. Robbie Anderson, JCS Director of Accountability and School Improvement.

Anderson said the “SafeCare” and “Educare” programs have been around for a number of years. It’s normally a fee-based program where you can receive before-school care, after-school care, or both, but this year they are adding in the option of all-day care.

The summer program has already ended with the transition into full-day care beginning on Monday.

It takes place at each of the eight elementary schools across the Johnson City School district. While there is no set maximum, Anderson said it varies by school and program. Cost also varies depending on the services needed.

It will run from 7:30 to 6 p.m. and for more information, you’re asked to contact your child’s elementary school.


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