March 30, 2020
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CA–While the state of California is sheltering in place, the medical industry is working around the clock to serve one of the most vulnerable populations: seniors. But with businesses and schools closed, many essential healthcare workers are looking for alternative forms of childcare. Park Terrace (a Kisco Senior Living community) is stepping up to take care of its associates and their children.
With a standalone building not being used, the community decided to turn it into a childcare center, so associates’ children could have a safe place to be while their parents are focused on providing the best care for the seniors who call the community home. Childcare is provided free of charge, and the children have no contact with the seniors. After submitting the proper paperwork, the community recently became licensed.
“I knew I needed to do something to take care of my associates so they could take care of the residents without any worries,” said Geno Koehler, executive director at Park Terrace. “Margie Nakanishi, our wellness director, used to work in daycares, and when I floated the idea by her, she lit up with excitement. We value the work each associate does, and we knew this would benefit them. They are working nonstop to ensure each resident is well taken care of and staying engaged while practicing social distancing. By offering free childcare onsite, associates have the comfort level of knowing their kids are being cared for, and residents know they will continue to receive the best care possible.”
The childcare center, which the children have named The Clubhouse at Park Terrace, is only open for associates’ children, and they can only attend when their parent is working. Before entering the clubhouse, children get their temperature taken and screened for any COVID-19 symptoms, then they are taken directly to the bathroom to wash their hands. The clubhouse can have children ages five to 13, and they are watched by associates at the community. They are provided lunch, snacks, beverages and a multitude of programs to keep them engaged. Executive Director Geno Koehler said this worked out better than he could have imagined.
“When the children leave, they tell their parents it’s the most fun they’ve ever had, and that is wonderful to hear,” said Koehler. “We are licensed to have up to 45 children, but we keep a one teacher to eight children ratio. All meals and snacks are provided by our culinary team. We actually make a menu for the children to have each week. We also are working with their parents and schools to find out how we can help the children with their schooling during this time. When times are tough, we need to stick together and find ways to help one another, and that’s exactly why we wanted to open The Clubhouse for the kids.”