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YMCA of San Diego County and the San Diego Foundation bring summer camp to low-income families

05/09/20

A YMCA summer camp program for youth from low-income families was announced Saturday by San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

The program will provide childcare for parents who are going back to work during the coronavirus pandemic as more businesses reopen, said James Canning, Fletcher spokesman.

A $1 million grant from The San Diego Foundation's COVID-19 Community Response Fund will support the initiative, Canning said.

"As a parent, I understand it will not be easy for parents to go back to work without viable and safe childcare options," said Fletcher, co-chair of the county's COVID-19 subcommittee. "As we gradually open up our economy, single parent households and working families are going to need more support with watching their kids while they are at work. This new partnership is one way we're doing it."

The partnership includes the YMCA of San Diego County, one of the largest summer camp providers in the county, and is accredited by the American Camping Association, Canning said.

Details about how to sign up for camp scholarships, the locations and dates will be announced soon, Canning said.

At a news conference Saturday outside the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in southeastern San Diego, Fletcher was joined by Mark Stuart, president and CEO of the San Diego Foundation, and Baron Herdelin-Doherty, president and CEO of YMCA of San Diego County.

"As a direct result of this support from Supervisor Fletcher and the San Diego Foundation, the YMCA will be able to get summer camp up and running more quickly," Herdelin-Doherty said. "We're working through this new normal and finalizing the details of how to reopen our doors and run summer camp in the safest way possible."

"To get San Diegans back to work and start our economic recovery, workers must have safe, accessible, affordable childcare," Stuart said. "Thank you Supervisor Fletcher for recognizing this vital need, and to YMCA San Diego County for providing this critical program so local families can start rebuilding their lives."

Getting the little ones out of the house as parents work from home can be a challenge, especially as students do distance learning.

“I think that's the biggest struggle that we're all feeling, is that we're trying to do too many things at the same time and feeling like we're not doing any of them very well, so it will be a huge blessing if the Y is able to re-open for summer camp,” said Laura Lavoie, mother of two young boys.

Lavoie says she recently took a YMCA survey about camps, where she responded, “please do open them if you can do it safely because we just need to have space for our kids to run around.”

Lavoie’s son Luke has gone to YMCA camp two years in a row and could go again.

Opening up summer camps comes as the City and County will direct $10 million in federal stimulus funding to provide childcare for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

As for how will the Summer Camp safely work, Herdelin-Doherty said, "We'll have smaller groups of campers, there will be stabilized groups with no intermingling.”

The YMCA plans to open multiple sites across the county soon, as the summer program historically is the single largest provider of childcare services during the summer.

"We’ll be disinfecting and have advanced handwashing stations and health checks provided,” said Herdelin-Doherty.

Jake Christensen, a father of two young boys and North Park resident says families simply need more summer camp options.

"They're tugging at my legs when I'm trying to get some work done so It's a bit of a challenge, but I’m used to it,” Christensen said.

San Diego County officials amended their public health orders last week for schools and childcare to ease restrictions as parents head back to work.