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Operation Breakthrough commits to staying open for working parents during snowstorm

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Posted at 10:03 PM, Jan 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 23:20:08-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With so many school closures across the Kansas City area, parents are faced with what to do for childcare. But many KCMO families do have options at Operation Breakthrough.

Mary Esselman, the CEO of Operation Breakthrough, says it’s critical for their center to not close when schools do because they know families have to be at work.

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Their jobs depend on it.

“Who wouldn’t want to stay in bed an extra day, but we’ve got work to do,” Esselman said.

It’s rare to find Operation Breakthrough's doors closed.

“We’ve got a lot of parents — 450 — who a lot of them need to be at work. They tend to be caregivers themselves,” Esselman said. “I’m always thinking about what our parents need.”

Esselman said lots of families don't get a choice but to continue working.

“They don’t get a pass just because it snowed,” she said. “Just one day of missed work may mean I can’t pay my rent, cause a lot of our families don’t have benefits or PTO time. We are really conscious of that. They need every day of wages, so if we can do it, we will.”

But in case of a snowmaggedon, the center has that covered.

“I will tell you this year we are trying something a little new,” Esselman said. “We’ve got an emergency snow crew that we are going to talk to parents today. For those parents that have to be at work, bringing in that skeleton crew that commits to being at work they know they can get here.”

Rachel Shea is a part of the crew that is there when parents need them most.

“A lot of these kids do need to be here, and they don’t have a lot of options if we close, so it’s important to give them that safe space, and a space they are used to and comfortable in," Shea, a lead teacher of a Operation Breakthrough partnership classroom, said.

But in the meantime, Michelle Jones makes sure families are covered, giving them food, diapers, toilet paper and blankets.

“It's best that you have snacks in your car in case your car stops,” she said. “A lot of people have a car that will just barely get the from ride A to B, you want this stuff to be in your car just in case.”