Cancellations mean child care issues

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Parker Lemmons reacts to Harper McClard’s play on the board game Othello as assistant teacher Sarah Cooney supervises Wednesday at Christian School for the Young Years in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

When the weather turns nasty, working parents may have a few options -- stay home with their children, have an older sibling baby sit or place them in a child care program for the day. The last choice can be expensive, especially for those with more than one child.

Including today, the Jackson School District has used 10 snow days; the Cape Girardeau School District's total is five. Cape Girardeau and Jackson students are off nearly every week in February for holidays, parent/teacher conferences or professional development days, district calendars show.

In Jackson, Snow Day Kids Club is available at South Elementary School. Offered for youngsters preschool through fifth grade, the club costs $25 per child and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Dr. Beth Emmendorfer, assistant superintendent, said the capacity is 60 to 80 children. On Tuesday, 42 students attended, and about the same number had been expected Wednesday.

Children bring their own lunch, but the program provides afternoon snacks. Arts and crafts activities are set up, along with some large-group structured activities and smaller groups where children can play board games or Legos.

For other child-care centers contacted by the Southeast Missourian, snow days aren't as busy as one might think. Some parents may get a day off from work because of weather, while others may decide to stay home and not bring their children to child care or use vacation time to stay home with their children.

Lillie Morningstar, left, and Emma Smith play with baby dolls Wednesday at Christian School for the Young Years. (Laura Simon)

Christian School for the Young Years director Jessica Graham said her center cares for children 6 weeks to prekindergarten and is licensed for 160 children. Its sister school, Community Day, serves children 6 weeks to 12 years, including those who attend after school.

On a normal day, Christian School for the Young Years would have about 140 children, but Tuesday, it had 90, Graham said. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost for children 2 years and older is $26.55 a day and Graham said there's no extra fee for snow days at her facility.

Missy Smith and Laura Rhymer, both of Cape Girardeau, are parents of school-age children.

Smith's children usually attend Christian School for after-school care. When school's out, the children stay for a full day.

"Bringing my children to day care now that schools have been let out is an unexpected expense," Smith said. "However, I don't mind paying it because I love where my children go. I know they're safe. I have to go to work, my husband has to go to work, so while it's not something that I enjoy to spend the extra money on, I'm very comfortable and confident with where I take my children and so I'm fine with having extra expense. It's nice to have that available so I can go to work."

Rhymer agrees.

"Thank goodness for this place because I wouldn't be able to make it to work," she said. "Christian School is always open. ... We've got a lot of family. We'd always have someone to watch her if she couldn't come here, but normally we don't know until the last minute."

Jeanine Fulton, director of Kids Corner, owned by Cape First Church, said her center normally serves an average of 110 children a day from age 6 weeks to 12 years. Snow days are about the same, because school-age children may attend while younger children stay home with a parent.

Cost for school-age children who attend daily is $65 a week before and/or after school, would cost an extra $7 for that day. A full day is $20, if the child is enrolled at Kids Corner. Pricing is different during the summer.

As for extra staffing, Fulton said she has a couple teachers who have worked for her previously who she can call as needed -- if they're out of school, or she can restructure her college students' hours.

Jaime Drum, director of Just Kids in Cape Girardeau, said her building serves children age 2 through 13.

On a normal day, it has 80 preschoolers, and after school, anywhere from 35 to 40 children, Drum said. Typically, a snow day brings in 15 to 20 school-age children.

The full day cost for school-age children is $26 a day. If they attend regularly, it's $65 a week and they pay an additional $13 on snow days, Drum said.

"If we had 35 to 40, we'd have to staff extra," she said.


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