RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The wait for emergency child care services in Richmond may soon be over, as Superintendent Jason Kamras says the school board is getting closer to reaching agreements with child care providers.
“We are working out the details,” said Kamras. “It is going to happen. It is going to happen within two weeks and we will have 500 slots ready and available for RPS families.”
During a meeting last week, the school board requested more time to determine what agency the district would be signing an agreement with.
“We had a conversation with the city indicating that the city attorneys office has recommended that the city not enter into an MOU with RPS for the emergency child care, but rather that RPS enter into agreements with each of the providers itself,” Kamras explained during a Sept. 14 school board meeting.
The YMCA of Greater Richmond, The Peter Paul Development Center and The Richmond Behavioral Health Authority have been identified as partners for the child care program.
“Families are struggling to make this work and my heart goes out to them, it’s difficult and it’s why I am committed, The City is committed, the school board is committed to working out the details,” Kamras said.
Kamras says it appears the school board is supportive of moving forward and says everyone involved "wants to make this work for kids”
“I think the board was processing the shift that we would be working directly with the partners,” said Kamras. “That was a change, I don’t think it was an insurmountable change. They just wanted to hear from their constituents, and be fully informed and that is something that is their responsibility quite frankly. I think they have had a chance to do that - I think there will be consensus [Monday] evening and we will be ready to move forward.”
Mayor Stoney has maintained that the City of Richmond and the three partners will run the program, RPS will be providing the space.
“The Mayor is asking that RPS enter facilities use agreements directly with services providers rather than the city,” said a Spokesperson for Mayor Stoney. “The city attorney has recommended the same approach we already use for after school programming, whereby the city enters into grant contracts with providers to allocate public dollars for specific programming. The providers enter facilities use agreements by way of memoranda of understanding.”
The Mayor’s office says there will be no additional liability for RPS if they sign agreements with individual agencies.
Kamras says despite what has appeared to be “back and forth," regarding the program, the final stages of planning should be wrapping up following the school boards Monday night meeting.
“When we get all the adult stuff figured out kids win," said Kamras. “Families who are anxious - I feel very confident this will be up and running very soon."
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