Stephens Family YMCA Seeking Ways to Help the Community, Reaches Out to Carle to Address Childcare Gap
The Stephens Family YMCA is partnering with Carle to provide childcare for school-age children of healthcare workers and first responders, starting next week.
Stephens Family YMCA CEO Jeff Scott said the organization was looking for ways to be of service to the community – from being a location for food distributions to other options – during this chaotic time.
After reading about how the Peoria YMCA was opening its doors to provide childcare for first responder families, Scott immediately thought to reach out to Carle.
“It was a really easy call for us to make,” Scott said.
Carle and Stephens Family YMCA have a long history. The land for the building, which opened in 2012, was donated by Carle. The relationship has taken on new meaning with the further development of Carle at the Fields adjacent to the YMCA property.
On Sunday, the YMCA made the decision it would close to members until March 29. As a result, the week of scheduled “School’s Day Out” camps for kids during Spring Break, for children kindergarten through eighth grade, didn’t happen.
“We closed that because we didn’t know what we were facing and a lot of our staff didn’t want to come in,” Scott said.
After evaluating its space and considering the need for social distancing and cleanliness standards, the Y staff determined it could safely manage 30 school-age kids, from grades K-8.
Using a combination of staff from the school’s day out programs, its child watch facility, youth sports staff, and summer camp staff, the YMCA put together a staff roster that is qualified to engage with kids.
“Carle said they would take all 30 spots,” Scott said. “Ideally we would open up to more.”
The YMCAA staff is very cognizant of the need for precautions, and will use the guidance recently released by the Champaign Urbana Public Health District regarding childcare.
The childcare program will start on Monday and will continue through March 30, when the current state mandate for school closures is set to expire.
“We said yes for the foreseeable future unless something else happens. We plan to do it as long as it’s needed,” Scott said.
Scott said the YMCA will continue to look for ways it can help and encouraged people to reach out to him with ideas or needs. The phone number is 217-359-9622.
“If there is some need in the community, we can think about doing more,” he said. “We don’t know what that is at this point.”
Since it closed, the YMCA has put up virtual content on its website on nutrition and exercise; family activities; and more. It’s completely free and available to all in the community. Access the virtual content HERE.