PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — The YMCA of Greater Kansas City wants to be there for families struggling to balance work and their children's virtual schooling.
The YMCA is partnering with locations across the metro to host COVID learning pods.
The program is for students ages 5 to 12 who either chose or are required to do virtual learning this school year.
YMCA staff members will provide full-day, in-person support for students.
Colonial Church in Prairie Village is one of the most recent organizations to partner with the YMCA. Pastor Aaron Roberts said he was on board as soon as the YMCA reached out.
"It has been so wonderful to be a blessing in this time and to do something positive," Roberts said. "We have so many parents that were in a place where they had to make the choice of do I quit my job so I can stay home with my kids so they can go to school."
Steven Scraggs, senior vice president of youth development, said the YMCA is actively adding more locations to provide support to as many families as possible.
"We know there's a need; we're trying to help fill that need. We're not trying to duplicate school, but we're trying to provide an essential service," Scraggs said.
For parents like Katie Mallory, the program means she won't have to choose between work and her 7-year-old daughter's education.
"I'm a single mom, and I have no other choice but to send her somewhere," Mallory said. "I'm just really grateful that there are some programs out there for us single moms that have to work to provide for our children."
The program does come with a cost, but Scraggs said the YMCA is working with parents worried about being able to afford it.
Roberts said the church is excited to host students and YMCA staff starting Sept. 8 and is already planning a welcoming celebration. He hopes other area churches will do their part to support local students during a difficult year.
"Right now we have thousands of students and households that need a safe place to send their kids for a school year that's going to be unlike anything we've ever had before," Roberts said.
Daily and weekly enrollment options vary.
Parents interested in the program should go to the YMCA's website.