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Disappearing Daycare

Mar 18, 2024 10:52AM ● By Martin Davis

There are many exciting things about children beginning school for the first time - first pictures, first friends, first refrigerator artwork.


Parents enjoy all of these, of course, but they also often look to the transition from home to school as a time when the burdensome cost of childcare begins to lift. 


To be sure, the cost of before- and after-school care isn’t as heavy typically as full-time day care, but it’s not cheap.

The YMCA is the largest single provider of after-school care in our region, and has a well-earned reputation for providing affordable, high-quality after-school care. But even it has not been immune from the cost increases brought on by regulations and the cost of doing business.


“Our pricing has gone up 26%” since the onset of COVID according to Alicia Kindred, executive director of Ron Rosner Family YMCA.


That cost increase affects a lot of families.


The YMCA hosts afterschool programs for children in the schools of Caroline, Fredericksburg City, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford.


The programs are convenient because they’re school-based, and the kids get to stay in a familiar environment after the school day ends. They’re also needed and well-used.


“If we went away,” Kindred said, “the private sector could not handle the capacity issues.”


The Impact on Family Budgets


The cost to take part in an after-school program varies by location and whether one is a member of the YMCA. In Spotsylvania, there’s a $100 registration fee to enroll in care, and the weekly cost for before- and after-school care is $90 for members, and $110 for nonmembers.


Next door in Fredericksburg, parents will also pay a $100 registration fee, and weekly costs for before- and after-school care are $85 for members and $105 for nonmembers.


Membership at the Y varies depending upon the number of people enrolling, but family memberships begin at $96 a month.


This means a family with two children in Spotsylvania County requiring before- and after-school care will pay roughly $900 a month for care and membership fees. Should parents be late picking up their children, late fees do apply.

The Y does have programs for families facing financial challenges to help with these costs. These programs are income-driven and can help families substantially lower their costs.


In addition, the Y does not charge McKinney Vento children, who are classified as homeless.


What It Takes


The prices can put a strain on family’s budgets, to be sure, but the Y does offer high-quality care. And because of this, the Y faces the same challenges staffing its facilities that private after-school programs do.

Finding teachers is the biggest challenge.


To gain licensing to teach, applicants must complete paperwork with the Board of Education and meet minimum standards.


For a person with no experience taking an entry-level position, they must first complete more than 30 hours of training. Their starting pay? Around $18 per hour.


To be a director requires a four-year degree or an equivalent amount of experience and education. Starting pay? $21 to $22 per hour.


“This is high-stress work,” says Kindred, requiring teachers to “redirect behaviors, prepare lesson plans, and document” behaviors and problems.


So even though the cost of care to families is still not inexpensive, families are assured that the people in the classroom are at least minimally qualified.


The issue of finding workers is “stumping all of us in Virginia,” says Kindred.



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