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City, District Work To Increase Childcare Options As School Starts Remotely In ABQ

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With New Mexico students starting the school year online, many more working parents than usual are in need of full-day childcare. Albuquerque Public Schools kicked off the semester yesterday. The district doesn’t provide childcare, but the City of Albuquerque is offering a limited number of free childcare slots, and district leaders say they're working with providers to make more private options available. 

In a video released by the district Tuesday, Daphne Harvey-Strader, the Director of Coordinated School Health, says only a handful of community childcare providers they’ve identified can do full-day services, and only a fraction of those have enough space. Depending on how the pandemic progresses, students could go back to classrooms part time as soon as Sept. 8, so Harvey-Strader says APS facilities aren’t an option. “We were really faced with the reality,” said Harvey-Strader, “that the district doesn’t have the space to teach our students - even half of them - while social distancing and also have room for full-day childcare programs.”

The city’s 22 community centers are offering full-day childcare programs for free after a $5 registration fee. Those spots are being doled out by lottery. The deadline to enter the lottery is Friday, Aug.14. The programs begin either August 24 or 31, depending a child’s last name.

APS says they’ve also asked Bernalillo County community centers to consider offering full-day programming. 

In an effort to expand the available options, the district says they’re helping connect private childcare providers with faith-based organizations that have offered to rent space, and assisting in getting those facilities licensed. “New full-day childcare options are starting to slowly become available,” Harvey-Strader told APS families in Tuesday’s video.

Families who pay for childcare services can apply for financial assistance from the state, which has loosened its eligibility requirements during the pandemic.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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