Boys and Girls Club of Nampa art exhibit

File photo – The Nampa Boys and Girls Club is expanding its day care service during the school year while schools are closed to help low-income families. 

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NAMPA — The Boys and Girls Club of Nampa, which is seeing a spike in demand for its services, will use up to $200,000 of CARES Act funding to expand its day care services while schools are closed.

The Nampa City Council approved the funding Monday on a 4-1 vote.

The city was allotted $3.3 million in federal CARES Act funding, which must be used by Dec. 30, according to city Finance Director Doug Racine.

Nampa Boys and Girls Club CEO Melissa Gentry told council the day care program is meant to serve low-income families who can’t afford children care during the school day. A majority of the club’s members come from low-income households, she said.

During the summer, the club saw a high demand for services but had limited space. The main facility on Stampede Drive typically can serve about 230 children, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, capacity is reduced to about 130, Gentry said.

The club was able to serve roughly 650 children by branching out into West Middle School, East Valley Middle School and Union High School, she said, but that’s still not enough space to meet demand.

Gentry said she is hoping to use space at the Hispanic Cultural Center next door to the club’s main facility, as well as additional Nampa School District classrooms.

The Boys and Girls Club is extending its hours to match school hours. Gentry said the program typically runs from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., but while schools are in session virtually, the club will provide care from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The day care program will stop as soon as schools reopen fully, although Gentry said they plan to continue the program while schools are operating with a hybrid model. Gentry said she is looking forward to that happening, as the students’ alternating schedules will allow the Boys and Girls Club to serve more children.

Nampa's emergency support specialist Kristen Pudlow, who worked with the Boys and Girls Club on their funding request, said the expanded program will cost about $110 per week for every child. That cost does not include additional cleaning and utility expenses, Pudlow said.

Councilman Darl Bruner asked Pudlow if the Nampa School District received any CARES Act funding, and mentioned he hoped the district would be able to collaborate with the city on this. Pudlow said while the district did receive CARES Act funding, they are not allowed to allocate funding with the purpose of helping individual families, and the city does have that power.

The sole dissenting vote came from Councilwoman Sandi Levi. During the meeting, Levi asked Gentry about the rationale in allowing the Boys and Girls Club to use space in Nampa schools to allow students to receive an online education even while those schools were closed.

“They’ll be doing their online school under your guidance,” Levi said. “But yet they can’t go to school.”

Gentry explained that while she does not work for the district, much of the reasoning comes down to social distancing. She said the Boys and Girls Club has a plan in place to keep students spread out, and will have fewer students in the classrooms than normal.

The funding still needs approval from Idaho's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, city spokeswoman Amy Bowman said. The city anticipates an answer Monday.  

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Pudlow's title and include context from Bowman. 

Erin Bamer is the Nampa/Caldwell reporter. Contact her at 208-465-8193, or Follow on Twitter @ErinBamer.

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