United Way of the Southern Tier Announces Fund For Distance Learning Spaces

Aug. 31, 2020:

United Way of the Southern Tier announces a commitment of $100,000 to support expanded, supervised distance learning spaces for school-age children in Chemung and Steuben counties.

“Working families are facing an urgent childcare crisis as school goes back into session in a hybrid model with students expected to attend online classes two to three days each week,” said Stephen M. Hughes, president and CEO of United Way of the Southern Tier. 

Many local school districts are unable to provide 100 percent in-school classes while maintaining social distancing. That means children will be in a classroom for part of their school week and learning remotely for the rest of the week. For many working families this creates a childcare problem as parents seek safe, socially distanced and supervised spaces where children and youth can be supported to attend and fully engage in virtual learning. Additionally, the time before, between and after online classes is an opportunity to provide enriching activities for children and youth, given the appropriate environment.

“We just don’t have enough school-age childcare slots available to serve all the families who will need them this fall. This $100,000 will help offset expenses such as PPE, internet fees, cleaning products, rental of alternative space, utilities and liability insurance, to offer more places for children to learn in safe, nurturing environments outside of the classroom,” Hughes said. 

United Way of the Southern Tier has long focused on the goals of school readiness and success with its Southern Tier Kids on Track initiative. A key requisite for school success is attendance. The pandemic and its effects on education delivery pose a great risk to attendance and, therefore, to student success in school. While necessary for everyone’s health and safety, remote learning days also jeopardize workforce participation and family economic stability. 

“Our community must act swiftly to address this dual crisis. United Way is prepared for this moment and ready to assist our community,” Hughes stated.

Applications from childcare, youth-serving and similar organizations will be accepted starting Sept. 1. Application deadline is Sept. 15.

Families who are seeking information on out-of-school child care, should call the Chemung County Child Care Council 607-734-3941, or Child Care Aware® of Steuben & Schuyler, 607-776-2126, or 2-1-1, the 2-1-1 Helpline.

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