Albany PAL is responding to essential workers’ critical need for childcare services in the Albany, NY area.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed Americans’ daily routines in March, daycare centers have closed down, making it much more challenging for essential workers to locate child care services to care for their children.
“We have extended care to cover essential workers,” Said Albany PAL Program Director Sherry Rose. “Essential workers include grocery store employees, home healthcare/senior care, hotel employees, gas station attendants, auto repair shops & sales, maintenance workers, banks, insurance agencies, food banks, and human services providers. As restrictions change, more will be added to the list, and the opportunity for care will be there for those families.”
The daycare will operate on a 9 to 1 ratio, which Rose says is the standard of safe practice, and can offer up to 60 daycare spots. The program will include music, dance, arts, mentoring, physical activity, and academics. Albany PAL will also provide children with two cloth face masks and three t-shirts when care begins. The youth will also receive a water bottle, breakfast, and snacks daily.
Rose says Albany PAL is following CDC Guidelines to keep their children and employees safe. All children, family members, and employees are required to wear masks upon entering the building, and the children will have their temperature taken and recorded daily. Any child presenting with a temperature above 100 must stay home for 24 hours after their temperature returns to normal. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing will be required and scheduled into the daily routine. No outside toys or electronics will be allowed in the PAL Center, and all surfaces and frequently touched spaces will be cleaned and sanitized at the beginning and end of each day. One family will be checked in and out at a time, and they have marked spaces for social distancing requirements. Children are also not allowed to share food and will be redirected as necessary to maintain social distancing guidelines.
In addition to daycare, Albany PAL is continuing its mentoring program - a free program that matches Albany City youth with compassionate, concerned, and interested adults from the community. Albany is also continuing its Youth Leadership Council program, which includes high school-aged children who work with Albany Police Officers and PAL staff to discuss and recommend effective ways to improve Albany PAL. The pandemic has forced both programs to move to a virtual platform, but the kids are enjoying it.
“The kids are looking forward to it,” says Rose. “They are happy to touch base with their PALs and their friends.”
When asked if this new normal has been a smooth transition, Rose said it’s going well but not without its challenges. “It’s hard. You really have to adapt on your feet. Good thing we’re all good dancers.”
Albany PAL’s daycare program begins on May 18 and will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost of the program is $225 per week. Tiered payments and scholarships are available to families that qualify. For more information on their daycare, Youth Leadership Council and the PAL Mentoring program, please visit Albany PAL’s website at www.AlbanyPAL.org.