Ann Arbor’s parents were stunned when the school district stopped childcare for the 2021-22 school year

ANN ARBOR, me. (WXYZ) – “They just dropped that bombshell with no discussion,” said Rachele Stucker, mother of a second grader at Ann Arbor Public Schools, who hopes district officials will reconsider their decision to drop out of school before and after childcare for the 2021 school year -2022.

“I found out about it on Wednesday around 10 p.m. and haven’t really slept since, to be honest,” said Stucker, who cannot rely on the help of other family members. The closest relatives live in Missouri.

The district superintendent described the cessation of childcare as “painful yet necessary”.

Supt. Dr. Jeanice K. Swift said the number of children in her childcare program with students staying in the gym, cafeteria or outside is “not a COVID-safe model”.

But the parents we spoke to believe the district may have found a way to make it work for the many families who depend on the paid service.

“If you bring them back to the classroom the way they say they should, they should be able to find childcare that so many parents desperately need,” said Cherie Burkheiser, grateful that she has an understanding and flexible employer .

Annette Sobocinski, director of the childcare network, said the challenges parents often face are finding an alternative that they can afford that also offers transportation.

Sobocinski said her nonprofit agency can help parents connect with childcare providers who meet their family’s needs.

The childcare network provides services in Genesee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw counties and is one of ten Michigan Great Start to Quality resource centers that help families find and pay for childcare.

Click here to learn more about the Child Care Network.

And here is the full statement posted by Supt today. Dr. Jeanice K. Swift.

Ann Arbor Public Schools have taken the painful but necessary step to end school-age childcare for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. We’d like to share this information now so that parents have time to prepare for this fall 2021 change.

AAPS used a large group model for childcare with students in the cafeteria or gym. This is not a COVID-proof model that would work well for kids in fall. Elementary school students are not currently expected to be vaccinated by the fall and other COVID-related complications such as cases and quarantine issues pose further challenges to the current model of school childcare.

Although we appreciate the range and availability of volunteer support and have used volunteers in the past. School childcare is regulated and volunteers cannot replace the required, certified staff. Casting such a large program has been a challenge for several years, which is now exacerbated by COVID.

In this coming year, we will be working to redesign the childcare program for 2022-23 to offer a program that is better aligned with our mission in equity and Rec & Ed.

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