“He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought them out, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.”
After making the decision to open an all day child care we had some big questions to answer:
We hit roadblock after roadblock. There were some that were very concerned about the risk COVID-19 posed. Springfield Public Schools told us we couldn’t buy school lunches from them. Figuring out a way to have staff present with virtual kids all day and staff to pick up kids from school and still do our regular Before and After School care was overwhelming.
Our biggest problem, however, seemed to be the financial one. We discovered it was going to cost us $2,000 to buy plexiglass dividers so that students could remain properly distanced. We realized our additional staffing costs were going to be astronomical as we went from having only three staff members plus myself to eight staff members plus myself. We didn’t yet know what our daily lunch costs would be. We decided we needed to raise the speed of the internet in the building. And all that didn’t even touch all that we knew we would have to spend on PPE, professional cleaners fees, sanitation supplies, etc.
Every day we planned, worked, and prayed as the first day of school loomed closer. Every day we took another leap of faith, trusting that God would provide the right person, the right conversation, the right organization, to get us what we needed so that we could serve our families.
As we kept striving forward, I had the same feeling, it was as if we were walking through a dense fog. We were deep into the unknown.
But the Shepherd kept calling, guiding us forward “Come this way, trust me, you’re on the right path.”
There was something inside me that just said "you have to do this" it was either take the leap or pack your bags and go home...
Isn't it crazy that this all started in March of 2019, 2021 has dawned and we are still in this space of struggle and turmoil?
We know that everyone has been affected greatly by this time but we thought it was time to share our story...
In July 2020, Springfield Public Schools announced that they would use a hybrid schedule to serve all students. This meant that students were split into two groups. One group would attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while the other group attended school in person on Thursdays and Fridays, the other three days of the week the students would attend school virtually.
When they announced this, it was a complete shock to us as well as the families. What are we going to do?
But this was the moment. We knew that to not act would be not only the cowardly way out but we also knew it would be wrong.
I had already received multiple messages from our families that said "what are you going to do? I have to work, I can't leave my kids at home three days a week, what can I do?" We knew our community was suffering and we couldn't just turn away from them.
We serve families whose children attend Bingham and Pittman Elementary School, both of which are considered Title I schools. Most of the families we serve need both parents to work full time and many are single parent homes. What are they supposed to do with their Kindergartner when they're at work and their child needs to be online three days a week for virtual school and cannot attend school in person?
We quickly realized that we had to do more. We couldn't just offer a Before & After School program as before. We knew we needed to open an all day care, where students could attend and get help with their virtual school work but also still attend before and after "school" whether they went to school that day or stayed with us. The scary part was we had ZERO clue about how much this would cost, we knew our staff needs would double, and what about COVID concerns, how would we keep kids safe?
So Jeff Sikes (our Board President), Ramona Brown (Board member), and I sat down, we hashed it all out, and in the end we decided to take the leap!
But as in every good story, there are times of light and times of shadow and doubt along the way. We will be sharing more about the wild ride this school year has been each week, follow along and see how God has shepherded us, used us, and provided for us through this time!