What’s the status of Richmond’s emergency child care program?

Richmond
MLK Schools

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Richmond will be one of the city’s emergency childcare sites. (Photo: Keyris Manzanares)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In August, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced he would allocate $3 million in CARES Act funding for childcare support for Richmond Public School families.

The Stoney Administration said it would work alongside RPS and the city’s non-profit community partners to help families who are facing challenges caring for children during this time of virtual learning.

Since then, the city was able to get Richmond Public Schools to enter into an agreement with three community partners to run childcare sites at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Holton Elementary, Huguenot High School, Miles Jones Elementary School and Blackwell Elementary School.

“The city’s intent has always been to supplement the existing childcare network by supporting providers and providing safe facilities, so this search may point you to a childcare center that is based at a school, receiving funds from the city, or is just a valued member of Richmond’s childcare network,” city spokesperson Sam Schwartzkopf said in an email to 8News Tuesday.

The YMCA is operating programs at Miles Jones, Huguenot and Holton. Richmond Behavioral Authority is in charge of Blackwell, and Peter Paul Development Center will run the childcare program at MLK.

At Monday’s school board meeting, RPS Chief of Staff Michelle Hudacsko provided school board members with an update on the opening of childcare sites.

Miles Jones opened on Monday with 49 children registered. Hudacsko said RPS received a spreadsheet validating that two-thirds of the children met the income eligibility outline.

Registration for the Miles Jones location is still open. The program costs $33 per week. However, if you receive any federal benefits then the program is free. 

The childcare site at Blackwell, run by Richmond Behavioral Authority, is set to open on October 12 and will focus on serving children with special learning needs. According to Hudacsko, they have 30 children registered so far. Enrollment at this site is by invitation only.

In the case of Huguenot and Holton, registration appears to be closed as the YMCA considers their staffing model and interest, Hudacsko said.

Hudacsko added that Peter Paul has not opened registration for the MLK location but they are planning to open by October 19.

During the meeting, school board member Dawn Page said she was concerned over Huguenot and Holton, asking what is the hold up.

Hudascko pointed out that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Friday so she expects movement in days to come and will provide an update at the next school board meeting.

The MOU between community partners and schools allows for facility use. Community partners are operating under a childcare license and must comply with guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and Social Services.

Ultimately, RPS is providing the site while the community partner focuses on programming and staffing, including janitorial services.

RPS said they will be checking in with the schools periodically to ensure that health and safety protocols are being followed.

The mayor’s office said the best way for families to apply to childcare is through the Help1RVA website where families can view nearby care options.

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