Helping the Helpers: Why the Discovery Center is asking for community support

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The Discovery Center in Springfield has been providing free childcare services for healthcare workers and emergency responders through the COVID-19 pandemic, but funds are now dwindling.

Rob Blevins, the executive director, says it’s expensive to provide free services for those essential employees’ children.

“The program costs us approximately $140,000 a month to run so yeah it’s a bit pricey it can be up to 5,000 dollars a day depending on what we need care wise,” said Belvins. “We still need 70,000 dollars to finish out May. Which we’re confident that we’ll be able to figure out and continue to get support in doing that, but that puts the onus on us to raise an additional $140,000 in June to keep doing what we’re doing.”

A lot of the funding so far had been donated by the community and local businesses.

“We’ve had some great community support from different foundations that have heard about what we’re doing,” said Belvins. “Really, it’s just getting the word out to the right people. The people that have the ability. There’s a problem here, and there are people out there that are able to fix it, so we are looking for those people right now.”

But as the center looks ahead to June, Blevins is afraid they might have to end free services at the end of May.

The YMCA says they are also struggling with new costs associated with childcare. Kelly Keim, the district director for School Age Services at YMCA, says it costs about $100 a week for day camps.

“We have had to beef up our staffing, and right now our staff has to stay with our kids,” said Keim. “It’s so important that they don’t ever leave their group. The funds also help with cleaning supplies and extra stuff we don’t normally do as thoroughly as we are right now”

Other programs, like SPARC, through the Springfield Greene County Park Board, will likely be an option for some parents this summer. Start dates for the program are unknown as officials figure out when and how they will restart services.

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