More Families Choosing JCC Education Programs

More Families Choosing JCC Education Programs

From bedtime story readers to scraped knee bandagers, parents and caregivers take on many roles every day. When the pandemic initially interrupted services like Gan Ami Early Childhood Education and Youth Programs at the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC, many parents and caregivers also had to take on the role of “teachers.” Partnering with parents to nurture the growth of their children has always been a strength for Gan Ami Early Childhood Education and JCC Kids Center, so it should come as no surprise that when the going got tough, these leaders stepped up to serve the changing needs of families in our community and support the parents who have relied on them for years.

After transitioning from After School Care to Virtual School Care in the 2020-21 school year, Kids Center Before & After School Care returned for kids in K4 through 5th grade this year. This return saw many new faces as well as familiar friends. Managing fluctuating protocols across the many school districts it serves has been an ongoing challenge, but our Youth Program team was up for the challenge.

“We have had to remain flexible in structuring our program these last few years to meet the needs of working parents in a changing school environment. Knowing they can count on us to provide a fun, inclusive and enriching place for their elementary school age children with the added benefit of being in a space that prioritizes the health and well-being of all of our participants has helped us build trust with our families so we can continue moving forward together,” said Ronna Ruffin, Director of Youth Programs.

As soon as companies started requiring parents and caregivers to return to work in person, Gan Ami has been able to provide much-needed care for the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers it serves on both its Mequon and Whitefish Bay campuses. While many parents were initially reticent to have their young children return, over the last two years enrollment has grown exponentially, due largely to the thoughtful work and planning of school leadership.

Karen Faust, Site Director at the Linda & Fred Wein Family Center for Gan Ami Early Childhood in Mequon reflects, “Consistency is important for the young children we serve, and it is something that has been a great challenge in this constantly changing climate. Making things as consistent as possible for our children and their families was a priority for us, even when it seemed like new governmental and licensing guidance was being shared every day.”

Now more than two years beyond March 2020 when all JCC programs were forced to close, Gan Ami and Kids Center are both seeing an influx of families needing quality care for their children, which has required both programs to employ waitlists to ensure appropriate staffing and space. They continue to explore expansion into new spaces both on the Karl Campus and at the Linda & Fred Wein Family Center for Gan Ami Early Childhood in Mequon to meet the growing needs of JCC families.

Linda and Tom Almanzo, Gan Ami Whitefish Bay parents, spoke for many when they shared this feedback, “We are thankful for your caring heart and for the constant generosity of your time. We feel like we can always come to you and that you always have our family’s best interests at heart. Thank you for who you are, and all that you do!”

Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2021-22 Annual Report.