Parents can Return to Work with Support from Lake Area United Way


Fee assistance for out-of-school care is now available to working families in Lake County. Last week Lake Area United Way approved $578,000 in funding to assist working parents who will rely on e-learning, out-of-school care and childcare this fall. To qualify, parents must be employed, reside in Lake County and meet income guidelines.

“Our goal is two-fold,” says Lisa Daugherty, president and CEO of Lake Area United Way. “We want parents to be able to work if their children’s school closes, and we want kids to be safe, supported, and learning.”

The landscape of school COVID teaching models changes daily, which can be confusing. Working parents and their employers need a trusted guide to map out safe, affordable options. A portion of this United Way funding will support a part time, temporary E-learning and Out of School Care Navigator to work personally with families and employers, directing parents to providers that can meet their children’s needs.

Out-of-school care and childcare providers are expanding services this fall, meeting strict health and safety protocols, and lowering the staff-to-student ratio to meet social distancing requirements. Staff members are not substitute teachers, but they can offer e-learning support.

  • Crossroads YMCA is developing the YMCA Out of School Learning programs at two sites: Griffith Family YMCA (at new Ready site) and Hobart Family YMCA (at former Ridge View Elementary). Beginning September 8, the YMCA plans to offer enrichment/activities for children Monday-Friday (before care available 6:30-8:00 a.m., program 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., after care available 3:30-6:00 p.m.) at each program site. YMCA will offer bus transportation from other Lake County YMCA locations (Crown Point, Hammond, Whiting) to our program sites. Families can complete the YMCA Out of School Learning program interest form at [].

“The YMCA is looking forward to another partnership with Lake Area United Way,” says Jay Buckmaster, CEO at Crossroads YMCA. “We joined together to provide Emergency Childcare at the beginning of the pandemic, and now we’re working to provide safe and affordable options for families through the YMCA’s Out of School Learning programs. We are proud to have a partner to make these options possible during challenging times.”

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is currently registering for its “In Club Virtual Learning” for this school year’s fall programming in each of their Clubs (Lake County: Cedar Lake, Hammond, Lake Station, East Chicago, Merrillville, and Gary; Porter County: Dune- land, Portage, South Haven, Valparaiso) from 6:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. For schools that offer in-person or hybrid instruction models, they offer both all day “In Club Virtual Learning” and traditional after-school hours from 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Families can register online by selecting their Club location: []. Lake Area United Way fee assistance applies to Lake County residents only.
  • Lake Area United Way will support working parents who enroll children in The Adventure Club, which offers full day e-learning support in Merrillville schools. The Adventure Club provides before and after school care in Munster, Tri Creek and Lake Central school systems. To enroll visit [] or call 219-865-6283.

Lake Area United Way also partners with several childcare centers to offer childcare support to health care workers, first responders, and low-income families enrolled in school or training/certifications in order to get a better paying job through the United Way “Level Up” program. To apply for a Family Child Care Grant visit: [].

Lake Area United Way builds strong families by helping people access livable wage jobs; funding quality, affordable childcare strategies that support working parents; and providing basic needs support for vulnerable, working families.

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