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Creating Safe and Healthy Spaces for Youth Amongst Covid

There is no question that current times are challenging. Because of the shelter in place, many parents are now forced to work from home along with their children who are out of school until the end of the school year. Parents are juggling their new work from home life while also trying to homeschool their children. But what about the families who don’t have the option to work from home?


Like so many other families in the Bay Area, Vanessa is one of thousands of parents who do not have the option to work from home. She is a Veterinary Assistant at the San Francisco SPCA and really takes pride in her work there.


As if this pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, Vanessa recently recovered from breast cancer. After enduring treatments and most importantly, beating cancer, her reality was rocked yet again. Schools were canceled and childcare programs across the city were closed due to COVID-19.


Having received a clean bill of health to return to work, Vanessa was stuck between trying to provide for her family and needing childcare. “I really needed to get back to work,” she says. “I’m dealing with no paycheck and dealing with COVID and those are all really hard things.” The financial impact of being on disability was taking a toll on Vanessa. She desperately needed to head back to work to be able to provide for her family, but without childcare, she felt frustrated and worried.


Despite the challenges, Vanessa feels very fortunate to have her job waiting her, she is aware that for many that is not the case. “I’m really lucky, my job is a saint - I’ve not lost my job or my hours. But I’ve lost childcare because there’s no school. So because there’s no school, I haven’t been able to work and that has been really scary,” says Vanessa.


Vanessa was looking for childcare options online when she came across the YMCA of San Francisco’s Pop-Up YKids program. The Y’s approach to youth development and creating safe spaces for kids so their parents can return to their essential jobs was just what she needed. Because Vanessa is recovering from cancer, her immune system is compromised, and she feels anxiety around exposure to contracting COVID-19. When she drops her daughter off at the Y, Vanessa feels reassured that staff immediately do health screening protocols and that there’s hand sanitizer and wipes waiting at the check-in area.


It’s been tough for Carina, Vanessa’s 7-year-old daughter, as well. “It’s been really hard for her because she misses her friends. [With COVID] you can’t even go to the playground. It’s terrible for a child.” Adding to Vanessa’s relief, Carina really enjoys Pop-Up YKids. With laughter Vanessa says, “...She tells me about her day and wants to come back. She talks about her favorite staff member. It’s a very positive experience for her.”


The Y’s Pop-Up YKids program ensures that children have a safe and nurturing place to go. “I was so happy to be able to go back to work. I’m helping animals - we’re a veterinary hospital, so we’re helping injured and sick animals. Because the Y is open and my child is able to go, I can go to work and help save animals, it’s such a win-win situation.”


Pop-Up YKids was created because working from home is not an option for parents who work in essential jobs. The Y has launched the COVID-19 Sustainability Fund with a vision to continue providing childcare for families who are working hard each day to support their community.


We need your support to be able to continue providing this service to families so that they can continue to take care of our community.


Please donate today.