EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- The Meadowlands YMCA has continued, without interruption, to operate its childcare program for the children of essential personnel during the COVID-19 crisis growing to be one of the largest programs in the state. It is one of only a few centers that has remained opened so enrollment continues to increase weekly.

The Meadowlands YMCA offers no-fee childcare services for families of all frontline essential workers.

"We have families who work in a broad spectrum of essential services including healthcare workers of all disciplines such as ER doctors, nurses, social workers, hospital lab and maintenance staff as well as first responders, mass transit employees and supply chain workers in towns throughout Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Essex counties," said Teri Festa, Chief Mission Officer.

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The center has been operating its emergency childcare since March immediately upon school closures, according to Festa. She said they have "accumulated nearly 33,000 childcare hours to an average of 90 families a week for the last 12 weeks." The center will continue with childcare as the normal course of business beginning June 15 under new guidelines.

The center has been able to provide no-fee childcare for frontline families due to donations from corporate sponsors. The NY Football Giants funded our first round of free childcare for healthcare workers. Recently, Amerigroup New Jersey was the latest supporter to partner with the program.

“We understand that frontline healthcare workers are quite literally putting their lives on the line to ensure those suffering from COVID-19 get the medical treatment they need and Amerigroup New Jersey is committed to supporting those brave men and women,” said Teresa Hursey, Amerigroup New Jersey Medicaid Plan President. “Through this partnership with Meadowlands YMCA, we want to ensure all essential workers have access to childcare, and they don’t have to worry about their children while supporting those suffering from COVID-19.”

“Our staff is well-organized and well-trained to manage in this situation.,” says David Kisselback, President and CEO of the Meadowlands YMCA.  “We are committed to our mission of supporting the community, and along with our partners, we are able to provide emergency childcare, food distribution programs, blood drives and education support programming which are being administered with the greatest of care.”

While parents continued to work in healthcare or other essential frontline positions, staff at the center cared for the children, trying to bring stability and normalcy to the daily activities.

"The pandemic created a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty on many people," noted Festa. "It was our intent to mitigate the disruption in the children’s lives and maintain as much normalcy as possible.  School-age children in our care enjoy age-appropriate activities in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), physical fitness, and we provide help with distance-learning assignments. The younger children follow the same curriculum as our early childhood learning center uses in our Mara Center throughout the year."

"Our teachers and staff are well-trained in COVID- related health and safety protocols and have exercised caution and have put their own health at-risk to care the children of essential workers."



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