Information via press release from Howard County government:

County Executive Calvin Ball has announced the launch of a new program, “RecZone,” operated by the Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP) and designed to help families address childcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is open to students in grades K-5 who will receive support for virtual learning assignments, work sessions, and will enjoy crafts, physical activities, and games. The program will begin on September 8 at select schools throughout Howard County. 

“Safe, accessible childcare is an urgent need as more residents return to work and as our schools remain virtual for the Fall,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Department of Recreation and Park’s partnership with the Howard County School System will provide safe programming to meet the needs of Howard County families.”  

RecZone childcare will be offered five days a week, excluding school holidays. Parents can choose between two schedules, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ($325 per week) or 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ($259 per week), and financial assistance will be available to those that qualify. The program is licensed through the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Childcare.  

“As many parents return to the workplace, RecZone will provide flexible, safe childcare options for families,” said Recreation & Parks Director Raul Delerme. “In the past, parents have relied on us for reliable before and aftercare programs offered through our Recreational Licensed Childcare and Community Services division. RecZone will give families the opportunity to enroll in an engaging recreation-based program as they navigate these unique times we are experiencing.”  

Registration will open Friday, August 14 at 8:00 a.m. for Howard County families interested in childcare for the month of September. Registration will open on Friday, August 21 at 8:00 a.m. for October through January. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, space is limited. Each group will have a maximum of 15 people, including two staff and thirteen children. RecZone plans to have two groups at each location, and more groups may become available later.  

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is currently working with HCRP to solidify the following program locations:  

·       Bellow Springs Elementary School, 8125 Old Stockbridge Road, Ellicott City 

·       Bollman Bridge Elementary School, 8200 Savage-Guilford Road, Savage 

·       Bushy Park Elementary School, 14601 Carrs Mill Road, Glenwood 

·       Clarksville Middle School, 6535 South Trotter Road, Clarksville 

·       Dayton Oaks Elementary School, 4691 Ten Oaks Road, Dayton 

·       Deep Run Elementary School, 6925 Old Waterloo Road, Elkridge 

·       Elkridge Elementary School, 7075 Montgomery Road, Elkridge 

·       Forest Ridge Elementary School, 9550 Gorman Road, Laurel 

·       Fulton Elementary School, 11600 Scaggsville Road, Fulton 

·       Hanover Hills Elementary School, 7030 Banbury Drive, Hanover 

·       Hollifield Station Elementary School, 8701 Stonehouse Drive, Ellicott City 

·       Ilchester Elementary School, 4981 Ilchester Road, Ellicott City 

·       Laurel Woods Elementary School, 9250 North Laurel Road, Laurel 

·       Manor Woods Elementary School, 11575 Frederick Road, Ellicott City 

·       Veterans Elementary School, 4355 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City 

·       Waverly Elementary School, 10220 Wetherburn Road, Ellicott City 

For information on how to register or on HCRP’s COVID-19 guidelines, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/rap. 

###

I had a number of questions for Rec and Parks about this program after seeing the email that was sent the families who were currently enrolled in the RLC program for the 2020-2021 school year (view here) that was shared on social media. I actually reached out before the press release so some questions and answers may be addressed in the press release…but some of the questions might be some of the same ones you had about the program. Here are the questions I asked and responses I got back:

When will this information be on the Recs and Park website for the public?

  • A press release has been completed and it will be posted on the website.

Cost for the 7am – 6pm option of $325 is higher than the optional full day care ($45 a day)…any specific reason for that?

  • The ratio for the RecZone program is two staff for every thirteen children while the Optional Full Day ratio was two staff for every thirty children.

Schools – it looks like 16 ES schools are mentioned in the information that was sent to me…is that correct?

  • Yes, 16 schools are listed as the tentative locations for RecZone. Final location approval will come from HCPSS.

The information sent to me states pending final approval from HCPSS – do you know when you will get that approval?

  • Unfortunately, we do not.

How many kids per class in each school (and how many staff to oversee those in each class)?

  • Our groups have a maximum of 15 people. For RecZone, this means that there will be two staff and thirteen children.

How many classes per school?

  • There are currently two groups per location. (More groups may be available once HCPSS confirms the locations and the permits for each location.)

What spaces within the school will be used for this service?

  • That will be determined by HCPSS.

###

Some interesting money facts based on the information above:

  • 16 locations – 2 classes per location – up to 13 kids per class per location (so up to 26 kids per location) – so a total capacity for this program is 416 kids (obviously this may change based on what is approved by HCPSS).
  • If all spots are taken with the 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. option ($259 per week) it would generate $107,744 per week
  • If all spots are taken with the 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. option ($325 per week) it would generate $135,200 per week

I did send over questions to the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and CC’d the Howard County Board of Education yesterday morning about this program. I received this response last night (just before 9:00pm) from a HCPSS staff member “I apologize for the delayed response today. I’m sure that you saw the release sent today by Rec & Parks. I will gather the information to respond to your questions and provide that to you tomorrow. Thanks for your patience and understanding!”

I have not heard anything from any HoCoBOE member as of this morning (sent my email to boe@hcpss.org at 7:11am yesterday)…so that is a bit disappointing.

I will plan on an updated post when the school system or board responds to those questions I sent over yesterday.

Scott E

5 COMMENTS

  1. If HCPSS approves use of school buildings for childcare purposes by Rec & Parks I’d be interested to know why SAT testing in school buildings was cancelled, and why school classes themselves are not being held in school buildings, especially (and even if only) for students identified as needing greater attention. Will school buildings then be available for use by other groups like PTAs and booster clubs? How can buildings not be safe enough for SAT test-takers, or small groups of HCPSS students, but safe enough for full day child care? The decision making process and criteria should be clear and transparent.

  2. I don’t understand? Why not just have the school open for actual schooling? This is like letting restaurants open so people can bring in their own food and eat at a table and then pay for the meal. What a scam. Thanks Calvin. The irony is this is first bit of innovation I have seen from the county so far…charging people for a service they are already taxed on? Incredible!

  3. So working families have to pay to send their kids to school to be babysat by Rec and Parks…. to participate in virtual school. If this isn’t the most ass backward thing I have heard, I don’t know what is.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here