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Coronavirus: ‘It’s been a lot of panic and stress.’ Parents Struggle to Balance Work, Childcare

Sunday, March 22, 2020 @ 12:03 AM

Posted by Chris Rossetti

covid-19CLARION CO., Pa. (EYT) – They say it takes a village to raise a child.

In this time of the COVID-19 crisis, we might find out – even in a time where social distancing has become a part of all of our vocabulary.

With daycare/childcare centers and schools across the region and state shutting down, and not all parents are able to work from home – what are the options for parents to have their children watched?

“It’s been a lot of panic and stress mostly as well as some missed work,” Ashley Beckham, of Franklin, said of not having daycare. “Working parents depend on daycare and school. Most of us didn’t have a solid backup or we wouldn’t be paying daycare prices in the first place.”

The solution may very well lie at the end of a letter on Tuesday, March 17, from Michelle Miller, the Director of Childcare at YMCA Younger Years in Clarion, announcing the temporary closing of the center.

“Let’s work together to support friends, colleagues, and neighbors,” Miller said in the letter. “Only by coming together can we best handle this crisis and come out a strong community afterward.”

Having family watch children is one option many parents are turning towards.

“My husband and I are still working,” Ashley Perry said. “Our children either go to our family, who live next door, or one of the daycare teachers has offered to watch them when needed.”

Grandparents seem to be the go-to family members for a lot of people.

“My husband and I are still working,” Logan Hinderliter of New Bethlehem said. “Our three-year-old typically goes to daycare but is now staying with my husband’s parents throughout the day. My husband’s father is retired and his mother has shut down her hair salon due to the virus.”

Clarion County resident Stephanie Corle is currently relying on family but isn’t sure how long that can last, and her fears epitomize the fears and concerns felt by many parents.

“My husband and I are both working, and the closing of both daycare and school had us concerned we would have to take leave from work,” Corle said. “But, so far we have family members that have reached out and are willing to babysit for us the next two weeks. Hopefully, if this lasts longer than that, we will still be able to rely on family.”

While grandparents are an option for some, other family members are also stepping in to fill the void.

Nathasha Thompson doesn’t have kids of her own, but she will be watching her niece from time-to-time.

“We are going to do some school things we have found online and do crafts,” Thompson said.

Amy Kaltenbach, who lives in the Clarion School District, said she is lucky, her oldest child is 17 and can watch his younger brother sometimes.

“I am also lucky that I have friends and family that can help out,” Kaltenbach said. “Several of my friends are already off work due to school and business shutdowns.”

Others are turning to friends to help out.

“I’m a single mom with a child that has a heart condition,” Rimersburg’s Shannon Gorsuch said. “I have to continue working to support us. I have had two friends step up and offer to watch my daughter and keep her safe from all this. I would be sunk without these two ladies.”

There have been numerous social media posts from high school and college kids also offering to babysit, but in a time of social distancing, there is a cause of concern among some parents of the would-be babysitters.

“I am being careful as to who I would allow my kids to babysit,” one parent told exploreClarion.com. “I won’t have them babysit for anyone I don’t know and who’s not healthy. We have a family member with an autoimmune disease, so we have to be careful about what enters our house.”

Other parents, who don’t have family or friends who can watch their children are being forced to take time off of work.

“I had to call off work because daycares have closed, and I had no one to watch my daughter last minute,” Jordan Merryman said.

Some employers understand the burdens their employees with children are facing.

“I have offered one of my employees to take projects home to work on, bring her children in and see what can be done,” Julie Baxter LeGoullon, who owns LeGoullon Counseling Services in Franklin, said. “We will all just do our very best.”

LeGoullon has said people have reached out to her agency willing to help.

“They have said if we have families struggling with childcare they are available to help,” LeGoullon said. “We all need to chip in and help the best we can, and we have been bending over backward to work with insurance companies to see what we can do for our clients.”

While taking care of children seems to be the primary concern, it isn’t the only concern.

Some people are being forced to find new ways to take care of their elderly parents.

“I’ve had to take time off work because the visiting nurses won’t come to take care of my parents,” Cherry Lawson of Rocky Grove said. “They need a lot of around-the-clock attention. It’s going to be a rough few months because I’m not getting any money right now.”


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