City Paper Widget

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Deadline Nears for Cooperative Play Program in Stead Park

Friends of Stead Park is still looking for Dupont-area parents of children who are now between 10 months and 4 years of age to express interest in an affordable morning toddler and pre-school program this September. It's not too late to help them convince the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) there is enough demand in the area to justify a city-run program of toddler daycare, called "Cooperative Play Program", starting in September 2014. Many parks in other neighborhoods have Cooperative Play Programs.

Stead Park is located at 1625 P Street NW
The easiest way to express interest is to navigate to their Google Docs form and sign up on line. Expressing your interest in the program does NOT obligate you to participate in it, if and when it should become a reality. Friends of Stead Park just need to demonstrate to DPR that there is great neighborhood interest.

A link to the Google Docs form can also be found on the Friends of Stead Park Facebook Page.

Over 75 interested parents have joined the initiative already, according to Friends of Stead Park Board Member Kishan Putta. More names would strengthen Stead Park's case even further.

Putta is also the representative for district 04 on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

If approved, the program will run from September 8, 2014, to May 22, 2015, Monday through Friday except D.C. school holidays. The toddler care will run from 9am until noon. There will be paid full-time staff, but the program is also partially powered by the parents of the children in the program. Participating parents will have to "serve duty days" once a week, possibly including the organization of visits by outsiders and/or the organization of field trips. Parents will have to pass a background check.

The cost to participating families is anticipated to be $216/month.

The initiative to create a Cooperative Play Program at Stead Park first came from a Friends of Stead Park Board Member and Dupont-area resident. The last time she applied for the program, she found her 23-month-old was on the waiting list for Cooperative Play Programs in both Columbia Heights and Volta Park. Eventually, she had to place her child in a privately-run preschool.

The city-wide registration for Cooperative Play Programs will start in February. At this time, the DPR will have to make preliminary budget and human resource decisions, including how many people to hire for the educational year. They will also need to start interviewing and performing background checks on prospective new employees. That's why Friends of Stead Park wishes to impress DPR with the depth of community interest now.

"We are trying to keep families in the city by making sure they have affordable resources for them -- so we don't lose them to the suburbs," Kishan Putta said.

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