After many elementary school parents concerned about child care for early release days on 18 Mondays throughout the year contacted the superintendent, an on-site program for kindergartners through fifth-graders has been created.
Superintendent Patricia Charles said the district will be providing after school care at all eight of Middletown's elementary schools for teacher professional development days beginning Sept. 27.
It's a partnership with the Northern Middlesex YMCA, funded by grants from the Y and the city's youth services bureau.
A questionnaire and registration form was offered on the schools' webpage for parents who need after-care for their children after classes are dismissed at 1:15 p.m., two hours and 10 minutes earlier than usual.
When Middletown Patch first wrote a roundup story on Aug. 7 about a number of changes to the 2013-14 school year, many spoke out in the comment section and on Facebook. A follow-up story on Aug. 11 again garnered a large number of comments, mostly from those opposed to the change for a number of reasons.
"There have been about 100 responses to the survey about child-care needs on the elementary half-days," Charles said. She send out a telephone and email alert on Sept. 4.
The YMCA offers a Kids Korner program at all Middletown elementary schools, but there is a two-day-per-week minimum. With professional development days falling about every other Monday during the school year, Kids Korner is inadequate for parent needs.
"As programs licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, we cannot operate as drop-in child care programs just for half-days so children must register for all Mondays if they want guaranteed after-school care those days, according to Melanie Carfora, YMCA school-age child care director.
Because the schools are the host facility, licensing is not required by the state.
The new school-based early release program was made possible by a $2,000 grant from the Middletown Youth Services Bureau and and matching donation from the YMCA.
Youth Services Director Justin Carbonella says the city grants $50,000 a year to his department for enhancing the education and development of children in Middletown. "This year is unique since it was less competitive than it's traditionally been in the past," Carbonella said, which left $2,000 to be allocated very specifically.
Registration for the first half of the 2013-14 school year closed Friday, Carfora said, but parents may still sign up for the second portion beginning in January.
The program will be run and staffed by the YMCA, but it is separate from the Kids Korner program, Charles said, adding that since it's run by a $4,000 grant, the school district budget will not be affected. It will run from 1:15 to 4 p.m. for $10 during the 17 remaining early-release Mondays or 1:15 to 6 p.m. for $20 daily, both slightly less than Kids Korner fees.
Charles said after one parent asked for payment flexibility, the YMCA offered to break the fee into two payments. There is also financial assistance on a sliding scale, the practice for all YMCA programs, and reduced charges for students who receive free and reduced-lunch.
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