It’s the age-old question posed by every parent, one that far predates the invention of disposable diapers and dollhouses.
What are we gonna do with the kids?
Jaime Ijams, director of recreation at the Fox Valley Park District, asked the same of her husband last month, when many local school districts were still deciding between remote learning and some form of an in-person hybrid model.
Knowing the park district could perhaps provide an option to benefit working parents, Ijams mobilized a team and “in the span of three or four days,” she said, eCARE was born.
eCARE – a park district-run program, housed in district facilities – offers full- and half-day options for children in kindergarten through fifth grade who require extended care when mom and dad aren’t at home.
This extended care program helps arrange solutions for families by providing activities, recreation and enrichment for youth in collaboration with their respective school districts.
It’s the FVPD’s goal to provide quality CARE where the participants feel safe, stay active and are fully supervised. District officials view the program as an opportunity to offer extracurricular activities and create lifelong friendships and school-aged memories.
“We’re not teachers,” Ijams said. “We’re in the field of recreation, but we’ll definitely provide our kids support and a structured schedule to log on to their virtual, remote-learning sessions for their school and then also provide what we do best – recreation activities, arts and crafts and indoor/outdoor games in our static groups of 10.”
eCARE offers flexible options for full-day care two, three or five times a week at the Vaughan Athletic Center and Prisco and Eola community centers, while half-day care with the same flexibility is available at Vaughan and Eola.
The cost is $40/day (full) and $18 (half), and the FVPD offers a scholarship program to resident families who are at or below the federal poverty level.
The child to staff ratio will not exceed 10 to 1.
“Our goal is to provide a viable, safe option for working parents, while also ensuring a worthwhile experience for their children,” Ijams said. “As a mom of two, I’m very aware of the challenges facing both parents and kids during these times of uncertainty, and we hope this program provides an outlet for families needing extended care this fall.”
For more information about the FVPD’s eCARE program, visit: foxvalleyparkdistrict.org/ecare/.