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Boys & Girls Club ready to debut 'new model' of childcare

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Lara D’Antuono is excited about the “new model” of childcare that will debut June 1 with the reopening of the Warwick Boys & Girls Clubs.

Because of restrictions designed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, clubhouses in Oakland Beach and Norwood won’t be open for drop-ins. Parents or guardians will need to sign up for the program and kids will be grouped in stable “pods” of 10. Stable ensures that the same kids are members of the same pod and don’t intermingle with other pods.

The model makes for fewer kids overall, since in addition to putting kids in pods, regulations dictate distances between pods. With these small groups, D’Antuono, executive director of the clubs, said staff members who are assigned to pods will really get to know the kids and have an impact on their lives.

The childcare program costing $200 a week will run through the month of June with summer camp starting in July. Summer camp regulations allow for groups of 15 including two adults. It would also operate in stable pods. The cost is $200 a week, which is more than what it was last year. Both the childcare and the summer camp would operate from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. workdays.

D’Antuono said the two clubhouses have the collectively accommodate a capacity of 80 kids for childcare and 118 for summer camp. Registration has been slow, but D’Antuono isn’t troubled. She said she would prefer to work out the kinks and have the staff comfortable with the program first.

She is also preparing to offer scholarships to families that can’t afford the cost.

“I don’t want it to be something only the wealthy can afford,” she said. She said funding is coming from the Champlin Foundation, the Providence Journal Summertime Fund and other groups and individuals.

In addition to kids, the programs also need counselors, and D’Antuono is putting out the word for high school and college students looking for summer jobs.

“Our children’s futures cannot succumb to COVID-19. So when childcares were closed, we decided we would make this time an opportunity for excellence by reviewing our programs and activities with an eye toward heightening experiences,” D’Antuono said in a release. She said the club conducted surveys to find out what supports kids want and parents need, talked with education professionals and experts in other child-related fields to determine how best to support learning and address social and emotional stress. Also significant, the club reviewed all programming, adjusting initiatives and incorporating fun and skill-building activities staff is sure kids will love.

“Because most children are unequipped to handle fear and anxiety developed from worrying about coronavirus, or from being isolated, we provided staff with additional training to help kids learn positive ways to cope. And,” she added, “we will refer families to specialists for children with deeper problems who need more intensive support.”

BGCW is currently taking registrations for childcare. For more information, visit www.wbgclubs.org or call BGCW at 401-467-4385.

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