CAPITAL REGION – After the Capital District YMCA sounded alarm bells in late August about staffing shortages threatening before- and after-school programs, the vast majority of programs have opened on time, according to the organization. Still, holdouts remain, as some programs are searching for staff, while others may not open for several weeks.
“We’re in much better shape,” said Emily Lang Anastasio, director of marketing for the Capital District YMCA. “A couple of weeks ago, we needed 140 people and, right now, we’re down to about 20.”
On Aug. 20, the YMCA said, if school were to open at that time, about 90% of its before- and after-school programs wouldn’t have been able to open on time due to staffing shortages. A public awareness recruitment campaign that included job fairs and other hiring events helped ensure that roughly 80% of the Y’s programs opened on time on Sept. 12, which was the second week of school for most districts.
“At this point, almost all of our facilities are open or are opening, with the exception of just a handful,” Lang said.
While the school year starts the week of Labor Day — if not before — for most school districts, the Y opens its before- and after-school programs the next week. The reason is because the Y needs to deep-clean facilities after summer camps, and it uses that opportunity to give staff a break, Lang said.
YMCA employs about 280 staff to cover its morning and afternoon programs.
The Capital District YMCA, which operates before- and/or after-school programs at about 40 sites across 14 school districts, has roughly 1,400 students enrolled in morning and afternoon programs. The YMCA operates programs in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Galway, Shenendehowa, Bethlehem, Guilderland, East Greenbush, Mohonasen, Albany, Schalmont, Scotia-Glenville, Schenectady, Schodack, Coxsackie and Duanesburg school districts.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services requires one teacher for every eight 4-year-old students, one for every nine 5-year-old children, one teacher for every 10 school-age children through age 9, and one for every 15 children ages 10 to 12. Class sizes are also capped depending on each age group.
Programs in Clifton Park and Guilderland are still struggling to find staffing, and a handful of other programs will be opening late in the next couple of weeks, Lang said. Movement on waitlists, which almost every program has, is expected in the next couple of weeks, as well, Lang said. Parents with questions are encouraged to contact the YMCA directly, she said.
Clifton Park’s program in the Shenendehowa Central School District perennially struggles to find staffing because the high school lets out later than the younger schools, limiting students’ ability to get to an after-school childcare job, Lang said. The Clifton Park program also struggles to find staffing because it isn’t as close to colleges as other districts, Lang said. YMCA positions are hourly, ranging in pay from $13.20/hour to $19/hour, and candidates as young as 16 can apply.
Cuts to child care services tend to impact communities of color most, said Dave Brown, president and CEO of the Capital District YMCA.
“The CDYMCA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, knowing that these efforts create better opportunities for all,” Brown said in the August news release announcing the staffing shortage. “Statistically speaking, when child care locations close, communities of color are economically impacted the most. We are working hard to prevent this crisis in our communities.”
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.