Traverse City Record-Eagle

Region

February 28, 2014

Parents scramble for care options

TRAVERSE CITY — The latest round of miserable weather prompted Traverse City Area Public Schools officials to cancel classes for the 10th time this winter, leaving working parents with school-age children scrambling for child care so they could get to work.

Many on Thursday took their kids to the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA’s School’s Out drop-in child care program, but camp, family and teens supervisor Thomas Graber could only accept the first 18 kids in line.

“We hit a big rush today. We had one kid until right around 7:45 or 8 a.m., and then all of a sudden we have a line. We hit 18 in about 10 minutes,” Graber said. “It’s first-come first-serve, and it’s who is physically here. That’s the only way to be fair.”

Graber said the program hit capacity almost every snow day this year. The supervisor-to-child ratio must be 1 to 18, and more often than not he’s the only supervisor who can make it in on such short notice.

“I can guarantee I’ll be here at 6 a.m. every snow day ready to roll. If I can find two staff members, then we can have 36, but 90 percent of the time it’s 18,” he said.

The facility is licensed to care for children ages 5-15, but Graber said about 80 percent of the children they care for in the School’s Out program are ages 6-9. As the snow days pile up, so do the lines of parents trying to drop off their kids.

“At the beginning of the year parents are taking days off with their kids, and I think they’ve run out of days that they can take off work, so now we’re seeing 18 to 26 kids trying to come in,” Graber said.

Parents weren’t the only ones stuck in line during Thursday morning’s cold, blustery weather.

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