An early major snowstorm brought the first of many challenges for schools providing childcare.
Should the scheduled after school programs be canceled because they didn’t want buses to be on the roads after 6:30 pm in the worst of the storm? Or should they stay open because the students parents couldn’t leave work and children would be home unsupervised?
In Kalamazoo, the administrators of Communities in Schools made the only decision they could. “We erred on the side of keeping the programs open,” says Pam Kingery, executive director of the after-school program for disadvantaged kids at 15 sites in the southern Michigan school district.
The Communities in Schools program is not like regular child care, where parents can be fined for late pickups. This program takes pressure off low income parents who are juggling multiple low paying jobs or looking for work. They have erratic hours and cannot help kids with homework. Often they have difficulty feeding them.
“Our fantasy is the parent who is waiting for their children to walk in the door after school to have milk and cookies,” Kingery says. “That left a very long time ago.”