BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — As businesses reopen and parents start going back to work, they’re running into a big problem.
Karen Lazear has three kids and works full time as a hospice social worker. Her two younger children are able to go to their daycare, but her oldest daughter, who is normally in school, had nowhere to go. Causing Lazear to cut back on her hours at work.
“I contacted daycares," she said. "I contacted other programs I know in town. But they were either not opening or not accepting kids.”
Thankfully for Lazear, the Richard Kane YMCA in Bartlesville opened its doors to provide free daycare services for front line workers. They have about 20 kids separated into groups of five. They provide hot lunches and Chromebooks to help the kids with their school work. It has been a saving grace for Lazear and her daughter.
“For her to be able to keep the same routine of we’re getting up at the same time, mom’s going to work, you’re going to do what you need to do and then I pick everybody else up in the evening, it’s really helped out our whole family," Lazear said. "And then she’s not worried about who she’s going with or what she’s doing that day.”
The free childcare program is expected to end this week partly because the YMCA is reopening its gym to the public. They can’t support the free childcare much longer and to keep their regular childcare program going, they need more space for the kids. The problem is the public school buildings they’d normally use are closed.
“We’ve struggled for years with the childcare needs in the community in Bartlesville so we’re looking at what we can do to continue this as workers continue to go back to work," said Robert Phillips, CEO of the Richard Kane YMCA. "There’s going to be an increase, we want to make sure that’s met at a reasonable rate.”
Lazear said if the program doesn’t continue she’ll probably have to go back to cutting her hours at work, but hopes that won’t have to happen.
“It’s just going to kind of have to make it work," she said. "I don’t have the ability to take her to work with me or work from home. It’s more I’ve gotta be with my patients and clients that need me.”
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