As a working parent, few things are more precious than finding the right afterschool child care program. A program where the kids get exercise; and have fun with games, reading, and art projects too. A program where the kids are not glued to the television screen.
Ann Arbor Public Schools Rec & Ed has offered a robust child care program for many years, but to be frank, how good the program is in any individual year rests on two things: a) the quality of the staff and b) the school location where the child care program could be.
Space turns out to be really important. I actually had a co-worker who did an in-district transfer for her kids because the child care space at her districted school was so poor, and she chose a nearby school with much better child care space! The kind of space that the afterschool program gets depends on a combination of space available and the importance the principal places on having good space. In any case, while my children were in the program, the principal--who used the child care herself--felt that this program was very important. The space at Ann Arbor Open was excellent--three basement rooms that were large and had large windows.
In general, in the years my kids were at after school child care, the staff ranged from good to great. But there were a couple of years where not only were the staff excellent, but they also got along so well, and were such good friends, that the feeling was palpable when you walked in the room at the end of the day. That was a special time, and I believe that (at least at that time) Ann Arbor Open had one of the largest afterschool child care programs in the district.
Most of those staff people were in college, or thinking about college, or working on artistic pursuits, and eventually, most of them moved on. One of them even has a child at Ann Arbor Open now! But over the past few months, I was saddened to hear of the death of two former Ann Arbor Open childcare staff.
Jevon Walls worked at Ann Arbor Open both in the child care program and as a lunch supervisor. He connected well with the kids and died after struggling with substance use issues.
Carrie Holmes had a great sense of humor. She was really warm to the kids, and with my daughter she seemed to work endlessly on perler bead projects. (The kids can do the designs, but an adult has to do the ironing of the perler beads.) Thus she was with her on the day that my daughter accidentally put a perler bead up her nose, something we all (except my daughter) found pretty funny. Carrie fought brain cancer for years, and she had just gotten her teaching certificate.
Carrie and Jevon--may your memory be a blessing.