YSS Kids Club to offer school-age child care on campus

Faculty, staff and students struggling to navigate the scheduling challenges of children remotely attending elementary school soon will have support available on campus.

New policy provides up to 80 hours from sick bank if school is closed or remote

A new policy effective Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 allows employees to use up to 80 hours of their existing sick time off to care for children who are: 

  • Learning remotely as required by the school district 
  • Attending a school or child care provider closed due to COVID-19 
  • Home from school or child care due to a medical need connected to COVID-19

For more information on this change and other time off options related to COVID-19, see the time off and leave section of the UHR COVID-19 webpage. It includes guidance and a job aid on using sick time off to support children not in school.

Beginning Oct. 12, Ames-based social services nonprofit YSS will pilot a full-day distance learning care and support program on campus to help elementary-age children with their required online schoolwork. The YSS Kids Club will use four classrooms on the first floor of Ross Hall, enough space for a total initial capacity of up to 45. The program is for children in kindergarten through sixth grade and will run Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

University human resources (UHR) work-life and family services coordinator Cris Broshar said a consistent theme in a virtual forum she held in late June for faculty and staff who have elementary-age children was a concern about how to manage part-time or full-time distance learning.

"Parents pieced things together in the spring to get to the end of the school year, but many of us were really anxious at the thought of having to do the same thing this fall," she said.

In early August, UHR surveyed employees about their unmet child care needs and began exploring how to help fill a clear gap in care for school-age children. Broshar said YSS seemed like a natural fit because it has provided on-site care for many years with its Kids Club programs before and after school in numerous communities surrounding Ames. Identifying appropriate space on campus and the time YSS needed to hire staff prevented the program from launching earlier in the school year.

"There were lots of things that had to take place before we could move forward with this project," she said.

With enrollment options from one to five days of care per week, Kids Club is designed to be flexible for changing schedules and hybrid instruction plans. Cyclones Care health practices will be followed. YSS will aim to maintain a 10-1 ratio of children per staff member and will not exceed 15-1. The program will be staffed primarily with ISU students.

The center will operate whenever university offices are open, including during breaks and in the summer, if needed. If interest in the program exceeds the initial capacity, plans are in place to expand, Broshar said.

"This will be in place as long as the demand is there," she said.

Standard fees for one child are from $150 per week for five days of care to $45 per week for a single day. YSS uses a sliding-scale cost structure that offers discounts for lower-income families and families enrolling multiple children.

UHR will send an email Oct. 1 to employees with school-age dependents on their ISU Plan health insurance that included the Kids Club parent manual, fee structure and registration packet. To enroll, complete the registration form and email it to kcisu@yss.org. Employees who don’t receive the Oct. 1 email but are interested in the program can email Broshar at cbroshar@iastate.edu. A virtual orientation and Q&A session will be held on Zoom on Oct. 8 at 11:30 a.m. Register online to attend.