Lack of childcare options amid pandemic frustrates parents in Cooperstown
By KEVIN LIMITI • Special for www.AllOTSEGO.com
The lack of child care in the central school district of Cooperstown is causing a crisis for many families with young children.
The Clark Sports Center previously fulfilled this role, but is now closed to children under 12 due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic.
Mary Jane Sansevere, a Cooperstown resident with a husband and two children, said her family was forced to move their children out of the school district due to lack of child care. She also resigned from her job at Cooperstown and accepted a job at Schenevus Central School as a pre-k teacher.
“Child care in this city is sort of at a crisis level,” Sansevere said in a conversation with AllOtsego.com.
Sansevere said her only options were to bring her youngest child to work with her, babysit her 12-year-old, or have her father, who works in Cobleskill, come home early from work, which doesn’t is not a good option according to her. .
” He is too young. It has to be supervised, ”Sansevere said. “He’s only seven years old.
Eventually, she said she was forced to remove her children from the Cooperstown district.
“It’s sad because he liked it in Cooperstown. He missed his friends, ”Sansevere said. “But the bottom line is child care.”
Babysitting was also an option, but in general they were only available between March and June.
One parent, who moved to Cooperstown four years ago from Long Island, said other parents are also considering moving due to the lack of available child care services.
Sansevere said she contacted Meg Kiernan, the city supervisor of Otsego, to get child care in Cooperstown. Kiernan told her she would try to authorize stimulus funds to help pay for child care in the district.
“It didn’t seem like a top priority for (Cooperstown Central School),” Kiernan said of his efforts to secure child care for the district. “I just felt like the school had dropped the ball.”
Kiernan held a meeting with representatives from the Clark Sports Center, Brookwood School (which offers kindergarten, preschool and elementary school programs) and Cooperstown Central School to try to find a solution.
The Clark Sports Center originally offered an after-school program that would take place at the school at no cost to families. However, plans have stalled as the school failed to provide the necessary information to the Clarks Sports Center to start the program, Kiernan said.
“I knew transportation was a problem. The stimulus money could have paid for it. It was to be used for something that was affected by COVID, ”Kiernan said. “I was trying to get budgets from people, and no one seemed to be able to give it to me.”
There is an after school homework help group in Cooperstown provided by the resource.Me company, which charges $ 400 per month per student. However, it is not running and can be canceled if the registration is too low.
Stephanie Nelen set up resource.Me and said she was not doing it for money but to provide a service that was lacking.
“What stinks is that I have to charge,” Nelen said. “I have to cover my overhead costs.” Nelen mentioned insurance and rent costs as part of the expenses.
“Our goal is always to have 20 (students) so that I can pay the instructors,” Nelen said. “It was only a side activity that I did to help the community. “
Nelen said the child care issue is a serious issue for Cooperstown. “It’s harder than you might think and the only reason I understand is because I’m a teacher by day,” Nelen said. “I feel bad for the families.”
Sansevere stressed the importance of having reliable child care in the community.
“The pandemic has been extremely stressful for families with young children. The lack of childcare options in the village has exacerbated this stress on several occasions, ”Sansevere said. “It harms the financial well-being and mental health of parents and leaves many students without a safe and stable place to go after school. “
Calls and emails from Cooperstown Central School Superintendent Sarah Spross were not returned Tuesday at press time.