Parents: Are you juggling your jobs plus your kids' remote learning and hybrid class schedules? There is now learning support at YMCAs throughout Monmouth County.

During this pandemic dilemma where each school district seems to have a different model for if/when students will learn remotely from home or attend school at various times, it has become a struggle for parents -- especially if they are also juggling a career or work schedule of their own or have kids in multiple grade levels and schools.  And for single parents this presents an even greater challenge.

Many working families are now turning to the Y Academy Programs for academic support and child care.

Although local districts, like the Manalapan Englishtown District, tried to give parents ample time to make plans for the' blended school environment', it became challenging for people like Gary Eng, a single parent of two elementary school children.

Gary is an application support analyst who has been working from home and needed help with his 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. He was thrilled when he heard that the Freehold Family YMCA opened its new Y Academy this year.

He says the Y Academy gives his family some sense of normalcy.

Gary's daughter, Karina, is in 4th grade at the Lafayette Mills School and his son attends a local preschool. On days when Karina has remote learning, Gary takes her to the Y Academy from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. She also takes part in the Y’s after school program on the days when she has in-person classes. Gary says,

“When she is at the Y Academy, Karina can log in to her school classes and she has academic support from the Y staff. She also gets to spend time outdoors and do other fun activities. Being with other children is psychologically good for her,”

The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County's new Y Academy program is now available at five locations: Freehold Family YMCA, Freehold Borough YMCA Community Center, Old Bridge Family YMCA, YMCA Children’s Achievement Center in Matawan, and the Red Bank Family YMCA.

Children attend two or three days a week for a half or full day. The children log in to their virtual classes from a personal device and receive help with schoolwork from YMCA staff and volunteers. The Y offers non-contact activities, like yoga and STEAM challenges (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), and the kids get to spend time outdoors. They also take part in mindfulness activities.

Children and staff wear masks, health screenings take place at drop off, and both children and parents are temperature checked. The Y follows all CDC COVID safety guidelines.

For information about the Y Academy and other YMCA programs CLICK HERE.

In addition to the Y Academy, the Y provides before and after school care in 15 Monmouth County school districts and full-day kindergarten and full-time child care in Freehold and Matawan to support local families. Sliding-scale financial assistance is available for all programs based on need.

Community volunteers are also welcome to lend a hand at the Y Academy as part of the nonprofit’s Togetherhood volunteer initiative.Y President and CEO Laurie Goganzer says,

“It’s a great way to come together as a community to support families and children though this new norm."

If you are interested in volunteering at a Y, send an email to: slastella@ymcanj.org.

The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services in 10 communities: health and wellness facilities in Freehold Township, Old Bridge and Red Bank; outdoor day camps in Millstone and Wall; a community center in Freehold Borough; counseling and social service centers in Eatontown, Matawan and Middletown; child care centers in Freehold Township, Matawan and Red Bank; and the Y is integrated in nearly 100 schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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