LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Tuesday, single mother of four Brittany Mathys worked frantically to cross things off her long to-do list. As you can imagine, the pandemic has been far from easy for her.
At first, Mathys said there were no child care openings available, so her mother would drive from two and a half hours away to help her with the kids.
“She is my rescue. She knows exactly how much of a struggle it has been,” Mathys said.
Since then, she was able to get her kids on a wait list for daycare. One by one, openings started to appear. Right now, her two school-aged children, as well as her 5-year-old, are in daycare.
However, her 4-year-old is still at home with her on this one day off work. Mathys is a co-manager of a Great Clips. She said she's been working six days a week as of late to alleviate some of the financial burden of the pandemic. During her weekday shifts, her 4-year-old comes to work with her.
“I am very fortunate to have a job that allows me to do that,” Mathys said.
Each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Mathys' mom comes in to watch the kids. She said she was excited to hear the JCPS Board of Education voted to bring students back in-person starting March 17. The board voted for a hybrid model, though, so she still has to find somewhere to take her two kids the other three days of the week when they have NTI.
For right now, she plans to keep taking them to their current daycare since they have a spot there already. This is a financial burden she had hoped to avoid once schools reopened.
“I’m sure most parents will be paying the full week. Whether their kids go or not, I’m sure they’ll have to pay for the full week. I just, I don’t know. I pretty much take it day by day,” Mathys said.
She's not alone. In the Facebook group "Let Them Learn in JCPS," many parents were asking one another for advice on this exact topic. Some kids have been utilizing services from the YMCA of Greater Louisville for child care five days a week for much of the school year. CEO Steve Tarver said he's happy the YMCA has been able to find solutions for families throughout nearly the entirety of the pandemic.
The YMCA has been running before and after care programs in partnership with JCPS for decades now. When the JCPS Board of Education announced the hybrid, even for elementary students, Tarver and his team got right to work to figure out logistics of both the before and after care programs, as well as full-day services on NTI days. Tarver said, since the decision was abrupt, the YMCA is still working on hammering out all the logistics.
“With the new school schedule, we are also working tirelessly on that," Tarver said. "It is highly complex with many logistical things like which sites are available? What are the locations? What about before and after? What about full day care? What about traffic patterns? Most importantly, what about safety, physical as well as COVID safety?”
He is asking families for patience as they work out solutions for families individually since the new back-to-school schedule is complicated.
“We are adopting our programs with that to have some combination, with limited sites because of the need to keep spacing in the buildings and make sure density is protected and things like that.We are able to provide various combinations of before and after care on days students are in school and full day on days the children are out of school," Tarver said.
The YMCA will be handling all CEP registration by phone, so that parents can talk directly to someone. Tarver said that will help the YMCA ensure they can understand the families' needs and find the proper solution. The number to call is 502-637-1575.
Tarver said, if nobody answers, leave a message and someone will return the call. He is also telling parents that, if there is not a perfect solution available for them right now, to check back later. The CEP scheduling is fluid as the YMCA figures out all the logistics.
While all of the changes can feel like a lot to handle, Mathys remembers to give herself some grace.
“Everybody is going through it right now. I keep reminding myself of that. There is always someone out there that doesn’t have a mom that can help them like my mother. Or they don’t have three kids in daycare. They have four kids at home with them. I can’t imagine,” Mathys said.
While it may be tough to not have all the answers, Mathys continues to jump over hurdles one day at a time.