Oshkosh nonprofits extend hours to provide childcare, virtual learning help

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:13 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A persistent problem for many working families during this pandemic has been arranging childcare for students learning at home. Some organizations that traditionally have after-school programs extended their hours to try to bridge that gap.

The Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh changed its after school hours to a 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule on weekdays.

“We wanted to give working parents an option so their kids could come here all day, do academics, make sure that we focus our attention on tutoring, helping these kids get through the year,” said Chief Operating Officer Tracy Ogden.

Ogden says there’s been a learning curve, but things seem to be working well for kids in the program.

“They can have a good breakfast, we can make sure they can get onto their zoom calls, make sure they get their learning done, and then just get to have some fun time, get to play with their friends,” said Ogden.

Oshkosh YMCA has taken similar measures.

“We don’t normally run a program like this at all,” said School Age Director Emily Karis.

Karis says they now run a 6:30 am to 6 pm weekday program. While those hours are similar to their summer program, the three and a half hours a day dedicated to academic work is new.

“It was a big struggle at first because we’re not teachers. We stress to the parents we are here to assist during this time, we’re not here to provide full education,” said Karis. So we are doing our best every day, even as things change now to be able to assist through the academic piece."

Both programs incorporate masking and other health safety measures for the kids

“We went through expectations of social distancing, wearing our masks, keeping our hands to yourself a lot at the beginning,” said Karis.

“You know, kids are pretty resilient, and as long as staff are emulating good behavior the kids follow right along,” said Ogden.

Demand is high, so both programs are filled. The YMCA is serving nearly 100 kids while the Boys and Girls Club is serving more than 200.

“We’re happy to be able to serve the community and we understand the need is strong out there still within our community,” said Karis. “But we’re doing our best to be able to provide the kids that we have here within our program a safe and healthy environment.”

“We wish we could take triple the amount of kids but we’re doing everything we can to help working families and to make sure we’re doing everything we can,” said Ogden.

The longer hours means more strain for both nonprofits.

“It does add a lot of extra expenses. You know, we’re being very cautious on what we’re purchasing,” said Karis. “We’re just kind of working through the ups and downs of everything that is brought with this.”

“It absolutely has been an expense for the club. But it’s one that our staff and board said ‘Our mission is to serve kids and that’s what we’re here to do,’” said Ogden.

Which is why both organizations plan to keep up the day-long care for as long as necessary.

“So if it ends up being an entire year like this, then we will be open all day all year,” said Ogden.

People can support either organization through donations:

CLICK HERE for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh donation page

CLICK HERE for the YMCA Oshkosh donation page.

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