Covid-19 closed child care classrooms – Will hopefully reopen June 22
KenCrest West Early Learning Center on Elmwood was gearing up for a successful spring in Mid-March when the Covid-19 crisis struck.
“Overnight we had to close our facility,” recalled Josie Jones, Director as she looked out sadly over the empty expanse of green grass and exercise equipment sitting idle in the school’s inviting playground area.
The key question was how to stay in touch with its 212 students from six months of age to age 6 and show them we still care for them and their wellbeing. “This is always vital for both our 32 youngsters in Early Head Start and the other 172 in the Pre-K program,” Jones stressed. Continuity of teacher contact is especially important during the pandemic, emphasized Jones. “Parents and children are under extra pressure during this crisis period.“
One opportunity which fitted naturally into the ongoing daily care process was to provide the same kind of nutritional support for their enrolled children – plus other school-age children in the families – and relieve caregivers of this burden, as well. Effectively, meant a total distribution of over 500 meals.
These meals are arranged through the Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP), a partnership between the US Agriculture Department and the PA Department of Education. They are prepared and delivered to the school by Betty the Cook – BTC Foods – a Philadelphia caterer that cooks and distributes over 50,000 nutritious meals a week!
So, the staff now assembles in the big parking lot at noon with their cars. When the BTC truck arrives the lists of families are circulated, and the proper number of meal boxes are offloaded into each vehicle. In addition to the meals, during the pandemic teachers are staying in touch with families by phone and email,” noted Jones This turns out to be strong support for parents and caregivers. “It’s really tough on them to be shut up in their homes for days.
Teachers also use this time to work on achieving further early learning certifications, “ said Bey, who provides family services to KenCrest clients.
KenDrest West Learning Center is located at 5900 Elmwood Avenue. For more information about the KenCrest child and adult care services, phone: 215-726-2310, E-mail: WEST@KenCrest.org or visit the website at www.kencrest.org or like school at www.facebook.com/KenCrest/