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Columbia Association lowers rates for child care program beginning next week

The Columbia Association has lowered its rates for child care as the public school system in Howard County has gone virtual for the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The program, which will be offered five days a week at public schools throughout the county, was initially priced at more than $300 per week for full-time care.

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However, the association announced last week it was reducing its rates by about $100 a week. Now, the rate for full-time care in the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. program is $215 a week. Parents who have already registered will be notified and “adjustments will be made accordingly,” according to an association news release.

“Kids in Columbia deserve the same opportunities as children across the county and beyond,” Susan Krabbe, the association’s vice president and chief financial officer, said in the release. “Despite [the Columbia Association] not being eligible for the CARES Act or other grant programs, we need to prioritize providing the best quality care for our community and making it possible for as many families as we can.”

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The Columbia Association’s program will run from Tuesday — the first day of school in Howard County — through the last day of the second quarter, Jan. 28, which is when virtual learning could end. In addition to the full-time program that would cost $4,128 for the five months, parents can also choose the 7 a.m. to noon option or the 1 to 6 p.m. option, both of which cost $108 a week, or $2,064 for the semester. The association also offers daily and weekly enrollment at similar rates. Children in kindergarten through sixth grade are eligible.

“We understand firsthand the financial pressures this pandemic is putting on our community,” said Michelle Miller, the Columbia Association’s director of community services. “We hope by reducing our rates, our programming becomes a viable option for more parents this school year.”

The association’s decision to lower its rates comes after the same choice by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball last week for the Department of Recreation and Parks’ new RecZone child care program.

Ball announced on Aug. 26 that a portion of the county’s CARES Act funds would go toward lowering the cost of the program. The RecZone program, which will be offered five days a week at public schools throughout the county, was initially priced at $259 to $325 per week depending on the schedules families chose. The CARES funding, however, resulted in an approximately 30% reduction in cost for the program. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. program is $185 a week and the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. program is $219 per week.

The Columbia Association’s program will provide supervised school work time and activities throughout the day. Each site is limited to 26 students, with 13 children and two staff members in a class.

The program will be operated at the following Howard County public schools:

  • Clarksville Elementary School, 12041 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville
  • Centennial Lane Elementary School, 3825 Centennial Lane, Ellicott City
  • Clemens Crossing Elementary School, 10320 Quarterstaff Road, Columbia
  • Cradlerock Elementary School, 6700 Cradlerock Way, Columbia
  • Hammond Elementary School, 8110 Aladdin Drive, Laurel
  • Northfield Elementary School, 9125 Northfield Road, Ellicott City
  • Phelps Luck Elementary School, 5370 Old Stone Court, Columbia
  • Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
  • Waterloo Elementary School, 5940 Waterloo Road, Columbia
  • Worthington Elementary School, 4570 Roundhill Road, Ellicott City

Registration is open for both Columbia Association members and nonmembers. For more information or to register, go to columbiaassociation.org/blog/ca-reopens.

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