YMCA To Reopen 2 Locations To Offer Childcare For Children Of First Responders, Medical Workers

Photo credit Cindy Ord/Getty Images for YMCA of Greater New York

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Emergency childcare will soon be available for the children of first responders and crucial medical workers working in the fight against COVID-19.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago announced Saturday that it is rapidly preparing two of its local Y centers, closed since Tuesday, March 17, 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns, to support essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic with their childcare needs. 

Starting Monday, the Y will reopen its Irving Park YMCA in the city and Buehler YMCA in Palatine to each receive 50 children aged between 5-12 years. First responders and health care workers will be able to drop off their children at one of the two locations for childcare assistance from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“Our nurses, doctors, paramedics, police, and firefighters are our first line of defense in this global health crisis and they are working tirelessly to reduce the devastating impact of this virus. But they have families to take care of too. This is the time to band together and pool our resources to help each other. The Y knows childcare. And we firmly believe that during times of need, it is our responsibility as a community organization to step up and lend a helping hand to those who need it,” said Denise Lam, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, in a statement.

The Y will enforce a number of precautionary measures to ensure a safe environment for the children and staff, including:

  • take the temperature of everyone - children and adults – upon entry
  • confirm with each participant and staff member that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms
  • verify that there has not been any recent contact with anyone known to have COVID-19
  • eliminate large group activities
  • reduce group sizes to no more than 10 people total in a room
  • plan activities that do not require close physical contact
  • increase the distance between children during table work
  • serving meals and snacks in the classrooms to avoid congregating in large groups
  • segment large spaces such as gymnasiums and multi-purpose rooms into multiple sections to maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance
  • keep groups consistent throughout the day and, as far as possible, maintain the same groups from day to day to reduce the risk of potential cross exposure
  • arrange for nightly deep cleaning at each site.

“We wouldn’t be offering childcare services if we didn’t feel we could maintain social distancing and keep the children and our valued staff safe. Rest assured that if anyone starts exhibiting symptoms, we will immediately remove and isolate that individual and call their family for immediate pick-up. If the individual is later confirmed to have COVID-19, we will contact the local health authority to identify all those who have had close contact with the patient for immediate quarantine. In this case, shutting down the entire program, whether temporarily or permanently, on the advice of local health experts, will also not be ruled out,” added Lam.

The Emergency Response Childcare Program will cost $60 per child per day and will cover the cost of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an afternoon snack for all participants, as well as staff salaries.

Interested families are advised to register immediately as vacancies will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Financial assistance is available in certain situations and parents are advised to call Member Services at 773-905-5115 (Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. -7 p.m.).