YMCA of OC caring for children of healthcare workers working amid COVID-19

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who catch COVID-19 generally present with mild symptoms, but kids still experience the effects of changes to life because of the virus-like school closures.

When asked what he missed most about life before social distancing, Orange County kindergartener Cade Lipari answered, "My teacher."

With school closures, some OC parents still having to head out to work were left searching for a safe place to leave their children.

The CEO of the YMCA of Orange County, Jeff McBride, said his staff saw a need in their community.

"Nurses, they can't go to work and help those that are sick so we said this what we do," McBride said.

After-school childcare was something the YMCA of Orange County offered year-round. They consolidated their services down to 28 locations in OC and extended their hours from 6:45 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

Friday, McBride said more specialized sites were on the way to cater to hospital employees.

"We were in a hotel yesterday and we're using that as a center for a local hospital and their employees, and right now it looks like that's about 150 children, so we will have that set up hopefully by next week," McBride said.

For $60 a day or $250 a week, kids could be at one of the 28 YMCA of OC locations, "but we are not-for-profit, so if the parents can't afford our prices or the service, we supplement them and we let them in," McBride said, adding, "we don't turn anybody away."

McBride said the parents of 500 children took advantage of the extended program within its first two weeks.

To prevent spread of the virus, children were screened for symptoms, and parents couldn't go in. Children stay in the same group of 10 throughout their physical fitness, arts and crafts and distance learning all while adjusting to life with COVID-19.
"We are teaching them social distancing. They're washing their hands continuously. We actually have one staff at every site dedicated only to sterilizing and disinfecting everything and anything that the child or the staff might come in contact with," McBride said.

That distancing from his teacher, and his new friend Grace, was something this kindergartener had a hard time accepting, but his reason really was easy to understand.

"Because she's my best friend," Lipari said.

McBride said the program had faculty available to accommodate children with special needs. For more information you can head to the YMCA of Orange County website.
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