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Rockbridge YMCA adds preschool to childcare efforts

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:41 PM EST
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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - As schools have gone to remote learning because of COVID, many working parents have had to search for child care.

In Rockbridge County, the YMCA has stepped up to try to help, along with local churches and ad hoc parent groups.

For example, while it’s not unusual to see busy kids in a pizza joint like Salerno’s, you don’t often see them doing school work.

“So we’ve been hosting enrichment centers since September, and we have jumped locations multiple times,” said Bobbie Wagner, Rockbridge YMCA’s executive director. “We’ve been at local churches, local schools, at the Gin Hotel in December. Now we’re here.”

They’re in their masks and socially distanced, but they’re also cared for in a program that has been very popular with parents who need to get back to work.

“There’s always a need for childcare when there’s not a pandemic, and it’s been interesting that there seems to be an even bigger need for childcare during the pandemic as kids are out of school and doing virtual learning,” Wagner said.

And it’s not just for elementary school either. Next door to the Y’s gym facility, they’ve taken over another storefront for a new preschool thanks to a grant from the local United Way.

“There seems to be a big need for that age care in our area,” according to Wagner. “So we’re serving 3- and 4-year-olds with preschool and 5-year-olds that are not eligible for kindergarten yet.”

Because the Y is more than just a gym.

“We’ve just been able to quickly adapt and pivot as we need to,” Wagner said. “We have awesome staff that are on board and they’re willing to work with the kiddos. And you know it’s been tough having to staff three child care centers, but we’re doing it and our staff’s doing such an awesome job with it.”

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