Coast Hills

Parents need child care, and those child care organizations need your help

by Joshua D. Scroggin
February 26, 2018

One of the biggest issues working parents struggle with is child care.

You need to earn money to get by, but day care costs can easily eat up the pay you’re taking home. For single parents, the dilemma is even more gut-wrenching.

It might get a little easier once our kids are old enough to enroll in kindergarten, but filling those crucial hours between the final bells at school and work can still be costly and stress-inducing.

“If you think about all of the sectors that drive the local economy, in terms of agriculture and hospitality,” said Kate Morgans, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of North SLO County, “while they create a lot of jobs, they’re not high-paying jobs, and child care is very expensive.”

Make a difference at the Lompoc Boys and Girls Club, Santa Maria Bonita School District ASES, Lompoc Family YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of North San Luis Obispo County.The conundrum has created a shortage of low-cost options. Local organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA do great work assisting parents throughout the Central Coast. Since the start of 2017, CoastHills has given $16,600 to help support child care programs through corporate sponsorships, the Credit Union’s employee giving program and the Community Action Committee.

And there is still more we can all do to make a difference.

In Paso Robles, the Boys and Girls Club’s after-school facility behind Flamson Middle School is filled to capacity. The same is true in Atascadero, where the Club rents space from a community church.

In those after-school hours, kids participate in the Power Hour homework completion program, the Torch Club for leadership and community service, the SMART Girls class teaching healthy attitudes, fitness and nutrition and more.

They are supervised, safe, staying out of trouble and aren’t just sitting in front of the TV. But for every pair of kids the Club is able to supervise, there’s at least one other they aren’t able to take in.

“The biggest challenge is there’s not enough capacity in North San Luis Obispo County for after school programs,” Kate said. “We have 180 kids enrolled here, and we have 90 on the wait list.

“We’re trying to expand. In Paso Robles, we may be able to conduct a new program in Centennial Park that will allow us to serve another 100 kids, but that will take about $80,000 to operate.”

CoastHills member service officer Brant Jones grew up spending time at after-school programs. With two teachers for parents, it was a natural fit for him to volunteer as a mentor at his local Boys and Girls Club.

So, when his name was called to select the destination of a $1,000 donation as part ofthe Credit Union’s employee giving program, “I’m All In,” Brant knew just how much that money would mean to the organization. Kate said the amount could fund an additional child for an entire year.

Funded completely through voluntary employee payroll deductions, “I’m All In” awarded $20,000 of local community support in 2017. More than 95 percent of CoastHills staff members take part in the program, and every three months, five participants are randomly drawn to choose the recipients.

Separately, the Credit Union also awards Community Action Sponsorships on a request basis. Each month, a committee of employee volunteers review funding requests and can award up to $500 per organization per year. In 2017 alone, the Community Action Committee donated $30,000 to local nonprofits.

The committee gave a recent $500 award to the Lompoc Family YMCA, which operates six on-campus after-school programs in Lompoc and is facing similar challenges to their counterparts to the north.

Half of the YMCA sites in Lompoc are in the ASES program, which is funded by a state grant, an Achievement Gap grant from Y-USA and community partners. It’s free for children who attend each school, but once the sites reach capacity — between 80 and 95 children combined on any given day — the remaining kids are put on a waiting list.

The program only allows a ratio of up to 20 kids per staff member.

“We don’t have enough staff to meet demand,” said YMCA branch manager Stephanie Saucedo. “There are not enough dollars to hire the staff to open up the spots for students. We’ve been trying to overcome that with private donors, grants and our scheduling.”

At the other three non-ASES Lompoc sites, adding staff means raising fees, something the YMCA is also trying to avoid.

For the kids who attend the after school program, the YMCA provides homework assistance, healthy snacks and active play. The program also partners with the City of Lompoc’s Charlotte’s Web Mobile Children’s Library, the LaPAWS animal advocacy group and First Tee Golf Program, which rewards kids for academic achievement.

The goal of the YMCA after-school program is to overcome the achievement gap and help children with reading, self-esteem and social and emotional learning.

The Santa Maria Bonita School District, which runs 21 ASES sites, received a $1,000 “I’m All In” donation from CoastHills lending specialist Zaira Cervantez for educational games at Tunnell Elementary.

Rob Bergan, the After School Coordinator for the district, said the big challenge with running a program that cares for 1,550 kids is the amount of staff turnover.  

“We need staff on the school sites,” Rob said. “We have a position called an Academic Liaison, where I pay people to put in 2-3 hours a week, and we just can’t get anybody to take the jobs. We have open positions that there’s a budget for and everything, and we’re only maybe getting about 45 percent of the district school sites staffed with a credentialed teacher.”

There are many ways to help each organization accomplish its goals.

Both the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA make donating quick and easy online. The North SLO County Boys and Girls Club also host an Annual Champions of Youth Charity Dinner and Auction each year around Labor Day. The Lompoc YMCA’s annual giving campaign is starting soon, so be on the lookout for invitations to learn more. The YMCA also takes in-kind donations, and can even help you make a tax deductible vehicle donation.

The biggest opportunity to give might just be your time.

In the case of the Lompoc Boys and Girls Club — which received a $1,000 “I’m All In” donation from CoastHills staff accountant Marivic Adolfo — you could be a homework assistant or a youth mentor. In Paso Robles, you can teach a class or give a one-time presentation on anything from technology, art, science, fitness, music, writing, dance or cooking. You can coach a sports activity, assist in administrative duties or even help with event planning.

All it takes to get started is filling out a volunteer application and completing a minor background check.

“You start on a trial basis,” said Lompoc Boys and Girls Club Director De’Vika Stalling. “Once you get in the building and feel the energy of the kids, you’re going to want to come back.”

The YMCA has similar opportunities for homework helpers. You could be a greeter at the front desk, a sports coach or help staff the Healthy Open House event.

“There are a million different ways you can volunteer,” Stephanie said. “No matter where your passion is, I‘m sure we can plug you in somewhere. Just come to the front desk and fill out a volunteer application.” 

Similar topics: We Make A Difference, I'm All In

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