The Los Altos School District launched a low-cost child care option for its staff last week, offering all-day supervision for the children of district employees.
The program is operating in partnership with the preschool Children’s House of Los Altos and is housed at Loyola School. The program launched Sept. 14, running 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five days a week. Approximately eight kids are currently enrolled, between the ages of 5 and 12.
A combination of LASD and Children’s House employees staff the program, overseeing the kids as they complete their schoolwork online. According to Chris Mayon, an administrator with Children’s House, one of the primary goals of the program is to provide care for the children of district staff, so they are able to focus on providing education for LASD students.
“The stress of attempting to teach the class and also help their own child – that’s a very, very difficult task,” Mayon said.
To keep costs low, the school district is providing two classrooms at Loyola, four staff members, janitorial services and use of the school’s internet. District staff only pay $10 per day for the program. LASD kicks in an additional $26, for a total cost of $36 per day paid to Children’s House.
“We’re thrilled that we could offer that to them at a very affordable price,” said Erin Green, the district’s director of student and staff services, who helped spearhead the program.
The students are split between two classrooms, and each child has his or her own socially distanced space to complete schoolwork. Staff members are available to help students with their work.
Masks are worn throughout the day, Mayon said, though some of the youngest children do need short breaks. Santa Clara County’s directive for programs serving children strongly recommends face coverings for kids ages 6-11, but only requires them for those 12 and up.
Although there are two classrooms to spread out between, the program is small enough that all of the kids are considered to be one cohort and are allowed to all play together outside, Mayon said. For kids ages 6 and older, the county allows stable groups of up to 12 children.
Once the district resumes in-person instruction and teachers return to their classrooms, Green said she expects more staff members will need child care for their own children. She estimated perhaps 20 more children may need care.
“This is really just our launch,” Green said. “For us, we’re happy to start small because we will learn from this and we’re going to learn how we can do it even better.”
The program is currently small, and there is no waiting list. All district staff who requested care were included, Green said.
The district is also currently planning to launch a program for students more broadly, not just the children of staff, who need supervision and support while completing their online classes. These could include beginning English learners and the children of essential workers. The district is still working on staffing and logistics for that program and hasn’t yet finalized a start date.