First responders and medical workers can now connect with school-age childcare in Rockland County during the coronavirus epidemic.
The YMCA of Rockland County, Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc., and local school districts have joined efforts to ensure essential workers have access to school-age care.
So far, two public schools have opened space — Upper Nyack Elementary and West Haverstraw Elementary are hosting one class each.
Attendance varies, depending on workers' needs. "We're there for them even if they want to come one day a week or two days a week or three days a week," said Charles Maze, CEO of the Rockland County YMCA.
The childcare is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
"We would welcome children of parents (from) anywhere as long as they work in Rockland County," Maze said.
Families can register at Child Care Resources of Rockland, childcarerockland.org, by following the COVID-19 link and filling out the child-care needs survey or calling 845-425-0009 extension 0 between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Children in the emergency child care program at the Upper Nyack School created a rainbow for the Facebook 845 Rainbow Hunt. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Rockland County YMCA and Child Care Resources of Rockland are providing the state mandated school-age childcare for first responders during the coronavirus shutdown of schools. (Photo: Submitted Photo)
"There's a capacity for three classrooms to be open and serve 27 children" at each site, Maze said. Right now, about 15 children are signed up for care during the month.
The executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that closed schools also required that school districts help create plans to provide child care for families whose parents and guardians are first responders, health-care workers, or other essential personnel.
The governor on Monday extended the closures through April 29.
Daycare centers are also allowed to remain open to provide care for younger children.
More first-responder families likely need school-age childcare, Maze said. Parents may have made arrangements with family and neighbors to provide care while they work as doctors, nurses, EMTs, police, firefighters or at other jobs that are essential during the pandemic.
Upper Nyack School on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Rockland County YMCA and Child Care Resources of Rockland are providing the state mandated school-age childcare for first responders during the coronavirus shutdown of schools. (Photo: John Meore/The Journal News)
Vicki Caramante, executive director of Child Care Resources of Rockland, said this effort makes licensed and regulated child care available for all who need it.
The childcare staff at both sites are trained in child development and licensed to care for school-age children, said Lucy Reedy, vice president of Child Development for the YMCA of Rockland. The child-care workers also participated in extra training to help support children during the coronavirus-related shutdown.
"They have looked for activities to take the situation off the children's minds," Reedy said of her staff. The children have made rainbows — a symbol of hope during the pandemic. They receive homework help, too.
During the regular school year, the YMCA of Rockland provides after-school care for Nyack, North Rockland, Suffern, South Orangetown and Clarkstown districts, Maze said. The same staff is being used now.
School districts are providing nurses, security and custodians, all of whom are present throughout the day.
Procedures have been crafted to ensure safety protocols: The parent or the adult dropping off the child does not come into the building. "We have to go out to get the child," Maze said. "We have to take the child back out."
All children and all workers have their temperature taken.
"We are fulfilling our mission in a sense that we're promoting this as wide as we can," Maze said.
The YMCA is charging a daily fee of $45 per child per day but some financial assistance may be available.
Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland. Support local journalism; go to lohud.com/specialoffer to find out how.