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Pop-Up YKids Relieves Our Community Essential Workers

We care for their families as they continue to serve our community.


“I don’t know how families are doing it. I’m at capacity right now. Having this support is incredibly helpful, and a game changer.”- Tanya, parent


The impact of COVID-19 can be felt by everyone, and especially those who work in the healthcare and caretaking industry. Tanya Meara works for the San Francisco Public Health in Jail Health Services. Her 24/7 on-call job has become even more demanding due to the current global pandemic. So, when she got an email about Pop-Up YKids, the Y’s emergency childcare for essential workers and families in need, she knew this would be a huge help for her family.

So many of our friends don’t have this option, and they are struggling. I think so many people could use this,” Tanya says during an interview.


Tanya quickly put her preschool-age daughter into Pop-Up YKids during the shutdown and was amazed at how quickly her child took to the activities and the staff. “It was amazing how easy drop off was, even on the first day.” Pop-Up YKids is a childcare option for families who need support during our COVID-19 pandemic. This service is provided in various YMCA facilities around the Bay area.


Pop-Up YKids- Emergency Childcare for Healthcare & Other Essential Workers

The mission of Pop-Up YKids is to provide a safe, creative, and cognitive learning space for children while their parents are working to help our community. Children participate in indoor and outdoor activities in small groups while practicing social distancing. Since all schools have been shut down for the rest of the school year, many families are looking for alternative childcare options, especially those who must continue to work, and don’t have the option to work from home. The YMCA immediately took initiative in response to this community need, and created an emergency childcare program.

Pop-Up YKids sites practice safe measures to ensure the safety of all children and staff and follow CDC guidelines and health standards. At drop-off, children and their families have their temperatures taken and a health screening, and are then separated into small groups for activities. The children’s

temperatures are taken regularly throughout the day as they are monitored according to CDC health guidelines. “A lot of people are nervous about their kids being around other people. I get it, but there are measures in place, and the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.”



They take care of our families, so we take care of theirs

Tanya is one of many essential health workers in the city of Bay Area looking for a safe place for their children while they work. San Francisco currently has thousands of people on the front lines working tirelessly for our community.

While their children play and learn, parents are able to focus on providing essential services to the community. Tanya’s job puts her right in the middle of the current jail release option to stop the spread of the virus, and ultimately save lives. California announced it would release nonviolent incarcerated individuals to stop the increased spread of coronavirus within jail and prison facilities. There is a lot at stake to keep the community healthy. “I’ve dealt with crisis with patients in other situations. But they are all one-offs and resolve quickly. To have an enduring crisis, like this [pandemic], that goes on week after week, and there aren’t simple answers, just adds to stress. It effects everyone more.” As she works tirelessly with coworkers and incarcerated people with heightened levels of stress, she is grateful that the YMCA is here to offer a space where she know her child will be safe and cared for.


Our Y Staff steps up to the plate

Pop-Up YKids provides a stable atmosphere for children and their families and is a place to build skill sets that allow kids to express themselves during what is likely to be a stressful time in their lives. The curriculum is focused on emotional support and providing children with outlets and routine. At Pop-Up YKids staff utilize a variety of activities, like costuming, to boost creativity. “[The] staff is Amazing!” Tanya elates.

Y staff have rallied behind helping the community in these difficult times. The Y believes this is a great way to give some consistency and structure to children who have been pulled away from their schools and their friends.

“The YKids program allows parents to be able to do their jobs and still have a foundation and consistency for their children; having routines and social emotional support. Having this program helps them maintain a sense of normalcy,” says Audrey Prothero, Pop-Up YKids staff member.

Pop-Up YKids is very useful for families. Tanya herself can’t stop beaming about the program. “The pop-up was incredibly simple and easy and everyone has been so kind. One little thing can knock me over the edge so this is great. I’ll continue to encourage my colleagues to access YKids.”

Pop-Up YKids is not only great for Tanya, her daughter loves the new friends she’s met and the artwork she’s created. “She shows me her art. She recently brought back an Easter bunny she made out of a plate.” Supporting families is what the Y knows how to do best.

“[Pop-Up YKids provides] motor activities, paintings and helps build cognitive development. Children can go outside and play, jumping and climbing, and many cognitive activities keep their imagination going. [For example,] dramatic play in costume to help them build their creativity,” says Tiffany Lo, Pop-Up YKids staff member.


The YMCA of San Francisco is operating 12 Pop-Up YKids across Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties. This program currently serves more than 100 Bay Area families.

To learn more about Pop-up YKids please visit our website,