United Way of Western Connecticut and Local Donors Rally to Help Families with Child Care Expenses During the Pandemic

United Way helps ALICE prosper

Funds Will Provide Scholarships for Child Care at the New Milford Youth Agency on Virtual Learning Days

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (October 15, 2020) — When New Milford Schools made the decision to return to school this fall under the “hybrid” model, it left many working parents in a difficult child-care bind. Children who would normally be in school five days a week, many of them also in before- and after-school programs, would now be home three days a week. Parents who work full time out of the house were faced with difficult decisions. Would they have to change jobs or even stop working to supervise young children who were not old enough to be left at home alone? Would they have to pay unanticipated child-care expenses for three days a week, leaving them short on funds to pay other bills once child care expenses were covered?
Members of the New Milford community realized that while the hybrid model was important for safety during the pandemic, it could have devastating effects on family budgets. The New Milford Youth Agency stepped forward and offered an affordable option for families needing child care on the days their children were not in school, providing care for as little as $5 per hour. But if two children in a family need 15 hours of care, that’s still $150 a week—a big portion of a struggling family’s budget.
United Way of Western Connecticut recognized the need for scholarships for hardworking, struggling New Milford families. United Way calls these families ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), and it has been working to address the needs of this population for the past five years.
Working with area donors, United Way pooled funds to provide a $6,500 mini grant to the New Milford Youth Agency, so that some children could receive scholarships to attend their program at a lower cost. This helps parents to keep their existing jobs and hours until normal school schedules resume.
The New Milford Youth Agency program also ensures that children are online when they are supposed to be, engaging in virtual learning with their teachers and working on their assignments. This means that students won’t fall through the cracks and fall behind on learning.
“Through this mini-grant, we were able to fund about 1,300 hours of child care for families who are working hard but struggling with the uncertainties of the school schedule during this challenging year,” said Katy Francis, Community Impact Coordinator with United Way of Western Connecticut. “This means that parents were able to keep their jobs, preventing them from possibly spiraling into poverty. The kids were also able to keep learning and stay on track with school work.”
“The Youth Agency is incredibly grateful to the United Way of Western Connecticut for their generous donation to our Child Care program,” said Brian Hembrook, New Milford Youth Agency Prevention Manager. “The families in our program were struggling with the unforeseen cost of extended daycare hours. The United Way noticed this growing need and really stepped up to help the families of New Milford. With the money the United Way provided, we’ll be able to offset daycare costs for many of our participants through the end of 2020.”

New Milford’s Mayor Pete Bass also expressed gratitude for this assistance to New Milford families:
“I can’t thank the United Way of Western Connecticut enough for their proactive, generous support of New Milford families and for stepping in to ease the burden of added childcare costs due to the hybrid school schedule.”                                                                                

For more information about programs available to ALICE families in New Milford, contact Katy Francis at katy.francis@uwwesternct.org or 860-354-8800.

Children in New Milford doing virtual learning at the New Milford Youth Agency

Children are engaged in virtual learning on the days they are not in school at the New Milford Youth Center. The “hybrid” model left many parents without child-care options on the days their children would normally be in school. United Way of Western Connecticut worked with community donors to make sure low-income children could attend and learn in a safe environment while their parents continue working.

Children in New Milford doing virtual learning with help from staff at the New Milford Youth Agency