NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Looking beyond the school year, many parents are wondering what their child care options will look like this summer.
Monday, 2 On Your side checked in with child care providers to see what the plans are for this summer, and like everything, they're having to switch things up.
The Town of Amherst Youth and Rec Department posted a notice on its website saying that “Due to the State of Emergency in Amherst... Summer Camp Registration is postponed.” It says updates will be posted on social media.
The Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club is providing free child care right now seven days a week for children whose parents are essential employees. These changes mean that instead of the focus being on after school programs, the Boys and Girls Club is providing three meals a day and two snacks a day now. It has also expanded its hours.
For the summer, as it stands right now, child care there is mostly going to be for essential workers.
"We are hoping, as things kind of progress and change, that we're able to add more specialized programs and be able to serve more kids," says Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club CEO Rebecca Vincheski. "But the reality is, you're not going to go from where we are today to right back to normal, kids running around and packed buildings by the time summer hits. That we have to maintain the health safety of kids, be able to still adhere to social distancing protocols, the sanitation, where you have lower staff-to-use ratios that we'll be implementing. So, I mean, the biggest thing is just like we all are now watching daily trying to figure out what's going on with schools, it's the same thing with summer."
You don't have to live in Niagara Falls if you need child care right now and are an essential worker.
The Boys and Girls Club in Niagara Falls has cut capacity in half, and never has more than ten people in one space. For the summer, it looks like as of right now that will continue.
"We're used to the Boys and Girls Club like doing the gym, the basketball, kickball, things like that, you know, we had to change we have to get creative, how we can keep these kids active all day engaged learning…” says Vincheski.
"Kids are resilient. So, how have they been with all the changes? Do they understand what's going on?" Asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"Obviously, we always have the kids wash their hands, but now we do hand washing after every activity. So, every 40 minutes, everyone washes their hands. They got used to the fact that no one's allowed in the building other than staff and kids," says Vincheski.
"At first, it was weird, you know, because we would have a table. We just bought brand new tables, like we just remodeled our club and have these gorgeous tables that were holding eight to 10 kids. Now, we fit no more than two at them. So, they're kind of like whoa, why can't I be with my friends, but they're, it's becoming just, it's becoming the new normal. So now, you actually hear them tell each other, like, you're too close," she says.
A spokesperson for YMCA Buffalo told 2 On Your Side the YMCA is committed to providing care this summer, and as of right now, it's planning to run summer camp with social distancing in place as long as the New York State Department of Health issues camp permits. She says YMCA Buffalo is prepared to increase to meet the needs of the community while keeping everyone safe.