Local groups offering child care options for working Johnson County parents as school starts

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — If you’re a working parent in Johnson County, you might still be trying to figure out what this school year will look like.

With some schools opting for distance learning, some parents can’t work from home while their kids learn online. 

Johnson County Parks & Recreation works with Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Gardner and De Soto school districts on before- and after-school care for school-aged kids.

“Those people that are working — we need them in our communities, and they need places for their kids to go,” said Jennifer Anderson, the department’s services manager. “We’re doing our best to have spots for those kids to make sure they are safe, and make sure our staff is safe as well.

They expect around a 50% decrease in students because some parents are able to work from home, but they understand others can’t.

They’re offering different programs that range from just before and after school, to partial distance learning, and complete distance learning.

“We’ve seen some decrease just because people are making other arrangements and being able to work from home, but there is still a huge need for service like ours,” Anderson said.

The YMCA is offering a program called Y Academy, which is similar to the parks department’s Out of School Time program. Steven Scraggs, the senior vice president of youth development services for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, said they’re working directly with schools to help bridge the gap.

“Y Academy will be a combination of traditional YMCA Y Club programming in the morning and afternoon, while during the middle of the school day we’ll navigate the learning that students are taking part in as they work on their devices, working with their teachers virtually, and we’re there to support,” Scraggs said.

Both have sliding scales for price based on the need. Some are by the day, and others are by the week. Both Anderson and Scraggs said they want parents to know even if they have to work, there’s a safe place for their kids to go.

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