For many parents, after school programs are a great way to keep children stimulated and busy with activity after the school day ends. But this isn’t always an option for parents of children who have special needs. Care programs for children with special needs can be hard to find and without them, parents sometimes have to choose between keeping or quitting their jobs in order to provide care for their kids.
This was the case for Edith, whose daughter, Meme, has special needs without an autism diagnosis.
Faced with the possibility of needing to quit her job to care for Meme, Edith connected with the YMCA to see what her options were. Amy Panetta, associate executive director of Youth Development at the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, and her team were able to come to Edith and Meme’s rescue. They were able to place Meme into the Y After School program at Riverside Intermediate.
“Having my daughter participate in the Y Aftercare Program has been life-giving,” said Edith. “I feel very blessed every day to know that I made the right choice in expressing my needs to Ms. Panetta and her team.”
A Fun, Safe Environment For a Child with Special Needs
The Youth Development YMCA Before & After School program aims to introduce children to new experiences and help them feel confident and secure. The after school care program provides activities that build on what children learn during the school day, and the staff creates lesson plans that follow Indiana State education standards.
“Since my daughter is in a secure, safe environment with great staff and great children, it has provided peace and stability to our lives,” Edith said. “It’s been a blessing to have staff and children so welcoming and caring and they all continue to make Meme feel a part of the community.”
It’s Meme’s first time participating in an after school program. Her placement at the Y has not only helped Edith maintain her employment, the experience has also introduced Meme to other kids her age.
“I have been able to create beautiful memories with my daughter and she gets to experience a beautiful childhood like other children—traveling, eating great foods and building healthy friendships with peers,” her mother said.
Meme enjoys working with the Y staff and playing with other children. When her mother picks her up after every session, Meme is filled with laughter and smiles.
“I pray the Y Aftercare Program receives additional funding to expand the services within the aftercare program and create other programs to meet the growing demands of fun, interactive and inclusive care programs for all children,” Edith said.
To continue programs that help people like Edith and Meme, make an online contribution to the YMCA’s annual campaign.