MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As more Minnesotans go back to work, more families will need child care. The YMCA is one of many options, offering various programs to fit early education and school-aged kids. It costs $40 per day, families can pay per day without committing to a membership, and financial assistance is available.

“It’s [available to] any worker,” said the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities’ Greg Waibel, explaining how circumstances have changed since it originally reopened in late March for essential workers. “Anyone who needs child care — you’re welcome to come.”

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It has evolved amid the pandemic by taking temperatures, having kids sit farther apart than usual, and trying to social distance. When kids play with toys, they have their personal toys that get sanitized after.

Sydney Richardson, who works with early education children, said this now feels normal in a way that isn’t distracting. Kids tend to have a lot of questions, especially when big changes are first implemented, but she and the rest of the Y staff believe communication is key.

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“Even with the little ones,” said Richardson, whose daughter goes to the Y in the Midway neighborhood of St Paul. “Some people say, ‘Oh they don’t understand what you’re saying.’ But they do. They know the difference, they can see the difference, they can feel the difference everywhere they’re going.”

Amid the pandemic, staff members have tried normalizing the changes by establishing a routine quickly. They made a children’s book introducing and explaining face masks before staff members started wearing them, to avoid it coming off as too scary.

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It’s a similar philosophy for the recent unrest in the Twin Cities. YMCA staff says it focuses on kindness, and tries answering kids’ questions truthfully, while still maintaining a stable environment.

Christiane Cordero