MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ (April 7, 2020) – The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is responding again to meet additional emergency needs during the COVID-19 crisis. Families of first responders and other essential workers in the community can now turn to the Y for emergency child care.

The Y received state approval last week to temporarily reopen its licensed child care center at the Freehold Family YMCA for children of essential workers. Emergency child care is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for children 3 months to 13 years old, and families do not need to be YMCA members to enroll.

“The Y is pleased to offer our hard-working essential workers a safe place for their children to learn and thrive,” said Y President and CEO Laurie Goganzer. “We recognize the hardship that these families are facing during this crisis, and we hope that we can provide some comfort and peace of mind.”

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In addition to emergency child care, the Y is shifting work to support critical needs in the community despite the temporary closure of its health and wellness facilities on March 16 to help the statewide effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Y is assisting the American Red Cross with much-needed blood drives and hosting simultaneous “drop and go” food collections to support Fulfill, Lunch Break and other agencies. The Y’s Freehold Borough Community Center is now a site for distributing crisis food boxes to families in need on behalf of Fulfill. Additionally, much of the Y’s vital behavioral health care, including mental health and addiction recovery, along with social services are now being offered remotely through telephone and video conferencing.

“As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the Y has always found ways to help people and communities in times of crisis,” Goganzer said.

The Y recognized health care workers and first responders would be on the front lines during the pandemic and would have the added concern about safe and affordable child care, Goganzer said.

Children at the Freehold Family YMCA child care center can take part in a host of educational and recreational activities including STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and virtual learning, as well as activities to develop social emotional skills. They will receive help with e-learning assignments and are welcome to bring personal electronic devices such as a laptop or tablet. There is also time for physical fitness. 

Families are asked to bring their own labeled meals and snacks. 

The Y is following all local, state and national guidelines to ensure the health and safety of the children in its emergency child care program. The staff has been trained in current cleaning and social distancing rules from the Centers for Disease Control and other public health officials, said Stacey Lastella, the Y’s vice president of Child Achievement.

 “We are obviously taking extra safety precautions and complying with all rules in order to keep everyone safe,” Lastella said.

The Y is working with nurses from area public schools who have volunteered to provide daily health screenings for the staff, the children, as well as their parents who drop them off. All are temperature checked when they arrive, and staff monitor children for any signs of illness or symptoms throughout the day.

Among the precautions the Y is enforcing, children and staff wash their hands upon arrival and frequently throughout the day. The Y is following appropriate social distancing strategies and parents are being asked to drop off children outside the building to limit adult entry. Additionally, the building and all areas where child care takes place, will have enhanced daily cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces, Lastella said.

The Y is licensed to accommodate up to 40 children per day with a staff to child ratio of 1 to 9. Registration information is on the Y Web site and 48 hours advance notice is required. The fee is $60 per day, however the State of New Jersey is currently subsiding the cost of child care for essential workers. Scholarship and program subsidies are also available from the Y based on financial need.

Essential workers needing child care must also register with the Department of Human Services’ county-based Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies. Essential employees who are normally eligible for the Child Care Subsidy Program must enroll in the Emergency Child Care Assistance Program to continue receiving child care services. Parents can find more information on New Jersey’s Emergency Childcare Web site.

“We are honored to continue to respond to urgent community needs during the COVID-19 crisis,” Goganzer said.

Connect with the Y to learn more about its emergency response efforts at www.ymcanj.org or on social media by following @ymcaGMC.

About YMCA of Greater Monmouth County

YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is here for all – to empower youth and teens, improve health and strengthen community. A leading nonprofit charity, the Y unites 36,000 people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. In 2019, we provided $875,000 in financial assistance to strengthen approximately 2,820 families in need. The Community YMCA and YMCA of Western Monmouth County formed the countywide Y on Sept. 1, 2019. Our life-changing programs and services are anchored in 10 communities: health and wellness facilities in Freehold Township, Old Bridge and Red Bank; outdoor day camps in Millstone and Wall; a community center in Freehold Borough; counseling and social service centers in Eatontown, Matawan and Middletown; child care centers in Freehold Township, Matawan and Red Bank; and integrated in nearly 100 schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties. We’re based in Shrewsbury, NJ. Learn more at www.ymcanj.org.