COLORADO SPRINGS — Harrison School District 2 is rolling out a program that will provide free before and after-school child care to families.
The program will be available to kindergarten through fifth-grade students in all of the district's elementary schools. They'll be partnering with existing child care partners for the program such as the Early Connections Learning Centers, YMCA of The Pikes Peak Region, and Deerfield Hills and Meadows Park Community Centers through the City’s Parks and Rec Department.
"We thought it was a pretty exciting opportunity for families and children and certainly wanted to be a part of it. We've been providing before and after-school care at Sand Creek for several years," said Diane Price, President, and CEO of the Early Connections Learning Centers.
She says there is a need for before and after-school child care, especially for those who can't afford it.
"Sometimes children will go home, especially fourth and fifth graders will go home at the end of the day. We used the term latchkey where kids would go home, have a key to the house, and check with their parents. Their parent would be comfortable or maybe not on leaving them alone until they got home at the end of the day," said Price. "This is an opportunity for parents to not worry about something happening, if there's someone there to answer questions, or help with homework at the end of the day."
Families will be able to choose before only, after-school only, or both.
"Before school starts at 7 o'clock and then kids will go to school then is after school until 6 o'clock," said Price.
"We're on-site at the school for the YMCA programs. So at the seven schools that we are in, they'll just drop off and pick up there," said Melanie Zuniga, Executive Director of Youth Development, YMCA of The Pikes Peak Region.
She says the YMCA will be offering participating families a wide array of services.
"It'll be up to the different providers, but the YMCA has nine components of after-school care that we follow including college readiness, stem, arts and craft, and healthy activities where they are up and moving around," said Zuniga.
She says the organization would be up for doing a similar program in other districts.
"We want to do this, and we are always willing to see how we could benefit the community. So I think this is putting our feet in what it could look like in the future," said Zuniga.
Families are encouraged to sign up for the child care program through their school's designated provider.