Tulsa Schools' before and after-school care

Monday, August 22nd 2005, 10:11 am
By: News On 6

Many Tulsa Public School kids had to set their alarm clocks a bit earlier than usual Monday morning. This was the first day of classes at most Tulsa Public Schools and it came with new start times.

It's a change that left some parents struggling with their own schedules so their kids weren't left in the lurch after school. The News on 6's Heather Lewin explains what parents can do.

Tulsa's elementary schools now begin the day at 8 AM and let out at 2:45 PM. Most already offer child care programs to make up the time difference, but some, like Eliot do not, either way the change is sending many parents searching for child care for the first time. Most parents have a little more breathing room when the kids are back in class, but this year an earlier end to the day is sending a major influx of students into TPS after school care programs for the first time. Before and after school care coordinator Debbie Sekel: "We do try to sympathize with the families, because we do feel badly maybe they've never had to pay for child care before and all of a sudden they have this expense."

Most child care centers offer pickup and drop off services. Workers say the time change doesn't affect the kids they care for, it's the parents not already paying for day care who are forced to find another option for that 45 minutes.

Tulsa Public School rates are $25 for before school care, $55 after school care or $60 for both. Those rates are actually at or below the cost of most child care centers in Tulsa.

Still, that's little comfort for families on a budget, for some parents, even paying the bare minimum is too much. Opponent Nancy Sangirardi: "If they're making $1,000 a months even with one child, that's a hundred bucks out of their pocket, they're probably barely making it right now."

Sekel says the program is run solely on tuition fees and is at a set rate, rather than hourly because of the cost of staffing. Eliot Elementary didn't have a before/after program, but because of parent concerns the school is launching one beginning next Monday, leaving parents just this first week to fend for themselves. Debbie Sekel: "Some parents are very appreciative that they have an option, they're not happy with the time change, but they are very happy that we're there to provide the service." Despite the lack of an after school program, things went pretty smoothly Monday at Eliot. In fact, none of the parents we spoke to had a problem with the earlier times, some even preferred it.

There are discounts and DHS assistance available if you need help with before/after care. Call 746-6447 for more information.