2020 | Schools

State delegates from county urge MCPS to find innovative ways to provide childcare in the fall

Non-classroom employees, college students could aid in effort, delegates said

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Twenty state delegates from Montgomery County have urged the school system to find innovative ways to provide childcare while school buildings are closed this fall.

In the letter, sent Wednesday to the school system leadership and school board, the delegates urged MCPS to have staff members who are not classroom teachers — like bus drivers, building services employees and substitute teachers — “provide care and supervision” for students who need it. The employees should volunteer to participate, they wrote.

“Any activities undertaken must adhere to public health guidelines and should focus on staff members … who are interested in participating in programming on a non-mandated basis,” the letter said.

Additionally, college students enrolled in education programs or high school students who supervise siblings or other children could receive internship credits, delegates wrote.

Outdoor spaces such as athletic fields and parks could be used for small group learning sites, and partnerships with libraries, parks and other county facilities could be established to create more space, they wrote.

Such steps are crucial for young children whose parents are unable to work from home or one-parent households, the letter said.

The letter said that in Montgomery County, 80% of mothers and 96% of fathers with children younger than 18 are in the labor force, and many can’t work from home. About one-fourth of Montgomery County children live with a single parent, according to the letter.

“[W]e believe that not addressing these challenges also conflicts with MCPS’s mission statement and core values,” the letter said. “We cannot rely on a solely remote learning environment when there could be other in person options for families that need support to assist with virtual learning and child supervision. To not address this issue will only exacerbate existing disparities and widen the achievement gap.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com