Camp Fire Alaska prepping for before and after school

A picture from a spring-break Camp Fire session, right when the pandemic started reaching...
A picture from a spring-break Camp Fire session, right when the pandemic started reaching Alaska. Months later, the organization is working on getting before and after school programs running again.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:05 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If all goes according to plan, Anchorage children will start heading back to school on Oct. 19. Camp Fire Alaska CEO, Barbara Dubovich said the childcare providing organization is getting ready to have programs for kids to go to before and after school at that time as well.

Dubovich said Camp Fire and Anchorage School District have been working closely together to make sure that as many children as possible are well-taken care of and there is relief for parents struggling with virtual schooling.

“Once school comes back into the buildings, we’ll be moving back to our model of before and after school programs in certain sites,” Dubovich said. “We have been impacted by the virus and we’ve had to reduce the number of sites that we’re gonna be able to open, but we hope to have registration open by Friday of this week.”

There is the looming possibility that something COVID-19-related could happen and set the plan off-track. Dubovich said they got a lot of practice setting up emergency childcare over the summer, and that they are confident in their ability to adapt and still provide services.

In the meantime, she said there are already three full-day day care sites available from Camp Fire where space is available for new kids and they’re offering help to those who may not have the resources to pay for day care.

“We’re offering scholarships. We’ve been able to find funding to offset parent fees. So we know many families are struggling financially, and we want to be able to let them know that there’s options for their kids that are safe and that they can access and be a part of,” Dubovich said.

Additionally, in conjunction with ASD and United Way, Dubovich said a pilot program is currently in effect at one ASD school to help the kids struggling most with virtual classes and resource deficiencies like internet and food at home.

She said Camp Fire staff have been trained to help these children by ASD teachers, and the children are fed three meals a day. Dubovich likened the model to the “learning pods” that are becoming popular among families with children with similar school work.

For now, she said they aren’t identifying which school it’s at for the sake of student privacy. However, they are looking to expand once they have the formula down.

“Education is going to be under great stress and strain — our delivery systems, our schools — for at least this whole next year, and potentially longer,” she said. “So we want to be sure that we’re supplementing and supporting those kids with the greatest need. So we do hope to grow and offer these kinds of services at other schools in need as we go forward in this year.”

Information on what is available and ways to get children admitted can be found on Camp Fire Alaska’s website.

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