With strict new health and safety protocols in place, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida this week has reopened 15 of its Clubs to serve children across the region.
The clubs – which target children from low-income families in underserved neighborhoods—are open for summer programming from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. All clubs are currently filled and have waiting lists.
The clubs have adopted a number of new protocols: all children and staff are temperature checked upon entering the Club, and must wear face masks while inside the club; the child-to-staff ratio has been reduced to 9:1, to allow for 6 feet of social distancing at all times; hand-washing and disinfecting of common areas follow a strict schedule; and deep-cleaning takes place daily.
“Of course our first priority – especially in the midst of a public health crisis – remains the health and safety of our children and staff,” said Gary Cain, BGCCF’s president & CEO. “At the same time, we realize that many of our children are safer coming to our Clubs during the day than remaining at home. Our summer programming allows parents to return to their jobs, knowing their children are being well-cared for by trusted adults, and helping their families, and our region, to recover economically.”
All programming has been creatively adapted to cater to allow for social distancing, and falls under the categories of Academic Excellence, Good Character & Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.
“This summer, there will be special emphasis on reinforcing academic skills and preventing ‘summer brain drain’” said Cain. “We fear the online schooling has put our Club members at a significant disadvantage, and we will be working hard with them this summer to make sure they’re at grade level when school resumes this fall.”
A grant from Office Depot supports these efforts.
Under the new standards, the clubs will be able to serve about 800 children daily this summer, as opposed to last summer’s level of more than 2,000 children daily. The “Cyber Clubhouse” online is still available on BGCCF’s website to involve children who are on the waiting list, or whose families have chosen to continue to quarantine.
In addition, to help combat the income reductions many Club members’ parents are experiencing during the economic downturn, BGCCF has also established a “Family Relief Fund” to help provide a weekly grocery delivery to Clubs for families to pick up, and other emergency expenses. People can contribute to the fund at www.bgccf.org/familyfund.
A list of Club locations and contact information can be found at https://www.bgccf.org/locations/.