The Family YMCA: Could 18 Year Olds And Child Care Workers Be Key To Economic Recovery After COVID?

The Family YMCA Afterschool Program participants. Courtesy/YMCA

The Family YMCA Afterschool Program participants. Courtesy/YMCA

By DIANA MARTINEZ
The Family YMCA

  • Support the economy; apply for a job caring for youth

As economists and bloggers speculate about the long-term implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, weighing next steps for parents, school districts, businesses, childcare providers and even government entities is like trying to walk across shifting sands, in a dust storm, with a bandana across your face, while holding a child on your hips. It’s scary. 

Los Alamos Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Guy said a summer survey of staff revealed 50 who needed care for 120 of their children, as well as financial assistance for this care, in order for them to be able to return to work in the fall.

“We are working hard to find ways to support staff members who are struggling with childcare. We know that many of our staff members are impacted by the new challenges that this pandemic has created. We appreciate our community partners working together to help solve this critical issue.” 

Local childcare providers, including The Family YMCA, are trying to plan for the safe return to their work when conditions allow, but are struggling to find staff, as well as to raise funds for financial assistance for parents in need.

“We are hiring now with the hope to train staff and be ready by Sept. 8. Teachers and parents need to know if we can provide care,” Y Child Development Coordinator Janine Morales said.

She said if she can hire enough staff, the Y is planning to offer day and afterschool camp for school staff and parents in the hybrid system. She said donations to the Y will help fund childcare for teachers and others in need.

“We need people to apply as counselors and supervisors today. We encourage individuals to bring their best creative talents, and degrees, and share their talent with our youth. We can build schedules that are solid or flexible,” Morales said.

Morales said staff will be trained on social-emotional learning, early childhood development best practices, and STEAM curriculum. She said pay for Site Directors starts at $12/hr. and Counselors start at $10/hr.

“Caring for children is a calling,” Morales said. “Over the years, we have attracted post-high school, college youth, and young parents. I’m happy to say that many of our staff members who had a leaning toward teaching and guiding children, after working for us, went on to do that work and are now educators.”

Morales said the Y follows state licensing guidelines and needs applicants that are 18 years of age and older. She said staff will be using COVID-safe practices and are trying to keep the experience as fun and educational as possible.

The economic challenges facing local business, schools and childcare providers was featured in a July 29 Washington Post article. It said a big factor that will hold back the US economic recovery will be childcare. Highlights from that article include these points below.

  • The child-care industry consists of a network of nearly 675,000 small businesses, employing 1.5 million workers, which operate on razor thin margins even in good times.
  • Given that the capacity of day-care centers has been reduced due to strict child-staff ratios and staffing requirements, and that day cares historically operate on slim profit margins, these initial restrictions — coupled with the expense of purchasing personal protective equipment, or PPE, for staff and additional cleaning materials — could mean steep increases in tuition or going out of business.
  • Some advocates anticipate a wave of permanent closures, leading to the loss of as many as 450,000 child-care slots — reducing the supply exactly when demand will spike because of widespread remote learning.
  • In a Massachusetts survey, in households with two working adults, half of parents of young children said they “will not be able to return to work without a consistent child-care solution.”
  • For low-income and single moms, the pandemic has exacerbated the hard choices between spending a significant portion of their income on child care; finding a cheaper but potentially lower-quality option; or leaving the workforce to become a full-time caregiver.  
  • The sheer magnitude of the disruption to child care during the pandemic will probably affect women’s labor force participation and earnings trajectories for decades to come.
  • Parents with children under the age of 14 make up almost one-third of the country’s workforce, or roughly 50 million workers, meaning any economic recovery will rely on their continued participation or reentry into the labor force.
  • Yet, the $3.5 billion allotted to the child-care industry in March was a fraction of the emergency aid offered to the airlines under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act.

The Family YMCA Afterschool Program participants. Courtesy/YMCA

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