Friday, August 17, 2007

Childcare program renders rude awakening


Has the Y done its research to see what the families of the Wood River Valley need? Is this program here to support the needs of the community, or is the community being forced (with no other public options) to support the needs of the YMCA?

Kathryn Beste is a Hailey resident.

The working parents of the Wood River Valley are experiencing a rude awakening regarding after-school childcare. The YMCA has taken over the Kidshop program and has raised its pricing structure significantly. Kidshop, a program that was run by the Blaine County School District, served the needs of families. It offered a program with an affordable hourly rate and great flexibility to parents. The YMCA is only offering a rate per session program. This means if you only need one hour of after-school care it will cost you three and a half times more than what you paid last year.

The YMCA's reasoning behind this is that it has a business to run. Apparently, the Kidshop program lost $30,000. However, through research, I found out that only Hemingway Kidshop lost money. Hailey and Bellevue supported themselves with the affordable pricing structure and flexibility.

In order to make it more cost-effective, the Y is encouraging parents to leave their children with them for the whole session. Most families do their best to structure work schedules to allow for as little childcare as possible. This session-based mentality certainly does not promote the YMCA's mission of building strong families. Interestingly enough, this session-based fee structure also doesn't encourage picking your child up early and driving (in most instances) back to Ketchum to use the new facility.

There has been no advertising regarding these changes. Parents at this point have only two weeks to plan for their children's after-school care. They are not going to be able to show up the first day of school ready to sign their children up for after-school care as was possible in the past. Sign up must be in advance.

At this point, unlike previous years, this is the only option (other than private services) for after-school care. The Blaine County Recreation District currently is not offering an after-school childcare program.

The working families of this community need affordable and flexible after-school childcare. It is a necessity for working families. It is not a luxury or an optional YMCA activity. Has the Y done its research to see what the families of the Wood River Valley need? Is this program here to support the needs of the community, or is the community being forced (with no other public options) to support the needs of the YMCA?




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