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After-school staff gets a helping hand

Posted: March 17, 2009 12:15 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2009 4:59 a.m.
 
Without free child care, Maggie Leyva could not afford to work part-time.

"Nowadays you have to pay more for babysitting than you make working," said Leyva, a Canyon Country mother of three.

For the last six months, she has worked on-call at Canyon Springs Community Elementary School's SAIL program while her children receive free care at Sand Castles Child Care Center in Canyon Country, where Leyva also works part-time.

Supporting All In Learning is an after-school program that provides activities like homework help, technology, art, cooking and physical education. A grant allows Canyon Springs and Mint Canyon elementary schools to offer the program to more about 150 students for free.

Sand Castles partners with the Sulphur Springs School District to bring the SAIL program to both schools, said Sandy Denkovski-Tunstall, president of the center. Recently, Denkovski-Tunstall decided to extend the free child care to other SAIL staffers.

"Sandy and I were sitting down and the economy came up and she mentioned her concern about the community and what she could do to help," Canyon Springs Assistant Principal Jane D'Anna said. "We were talking about staffing at SAIL. When you're looking for employees there's always something that interferes with them being able to work, which is usually their children,"

It was Denkovski-Tunstall's offer of free child care that now allows a few staffers to work at SAIL and Sand Castles without worrying about child care costs.

"The educational field doesn't pay top dollar like other fields do, so we're sensitive to that," said Denkovski-Tunstall. "So we offer free child care to our staff at Sand Castles and SAIL."

D'Anna said the deal is a win-win situation for the SAIL program and its staffers.

"It's helping us get qualified people to work the program," D'Anna said. "Not only do we have someone who is qualified to work, but also the child is being supervised at a quality program while they're working at a quality program here for SAIL.

"I was so impressed with (Sandy's) generosity."

Kathy Wright, assistant superintendent of instruction for the Sulphur Springs district, said it is a great opportunity for the SAIL program to implement parents who want to work and not have to worry about where their children are. Denkovski-Tunstall said she hopes other businesses might consider offering their employees the same option.

"We invite and we're open to partnering with any business in collaborating to making a difference out here," she said.

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