Getting child care on snow days can be difficult, especially for working parents. Some places remain open, while others need to shut down.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ulster County are for kids ages 8- 18 and cost $10 per year. The fee covers meals and activities for parents who need an affordable and dependable option.
“A lot of our parents don’t have jobs where they can just take off or work remotely, so if you don’t have a safe place for your kid to go, you have to make a decision of maybe leave them in an unsafe situation or you have to call in and miss that pay,” said Dan Whalen, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ulster County.
Whalen said the club will stay open no matter the weather to assist working parents and give kids in the area something to do on days off from school.
Kelly Mathis, a teacher in the Kingston City School District, said her biological and foster children attend the club, along with some of her students.
“It gave me a break to run my errands after school and make different appointments as well,” Mathis said.
As a teacher, she has seen how it helps the children of working parents directly through her students who attend.
“The kids can be here instead of home even with an older sibling or on video games all day or unattended, so to be able to have this option is really unique,” Mathis said.
But not every option is able to stay open for snow days. Some privately-owned child care centers have to follow regulations that prevent them from opening during inclement weather, proving to be complicated for not just parents, but also the providers.
Jessica Dean is the on-site provider at Jessica’s Daycare in Monticello. Her kids range from birth to 5 years old. She also has a before- and after-school program for elementary-aged kids.
When it comes to deciding whether to shut down, Dean said she looks at DOT recommendations, the severity of the storm and the likelihood of losing power.
“If we know it’s supposed to be a terrible ice storm or something like that, we will usually close once it starts, and we see that it’s actually happening. I try not to jump the gun, though, because sometimes there’ll be a huge miss and we’ll get like a dusting, and it’s frustrating for everybody,” Dean said.
Dean said they have leeway but also some liability.
“If we opt to stay open regardless of weather, and say a parent goes off the road and ends up in a ditch and can’t retrieve their child, we then have to shelter in place with that child, and we accept the liability of whatever may happen during that storm with that child in our care,” Dean said.
Whalen said about 80- 90% of the kids who participate in the Boys and Girls Club’s Kingston location walk to the facility, so transportation isn’t as much of a concern during bad weather.
“When it snows or there’s a weather issue, of course it always takes the population down a little, but the ones that are there are the ones that you know really need it the most,” Whalen said.