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Free childcare for essential workers coming to an end soon

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative, which provided free childcare for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, is coming to an end on May 24. 

The program started on March 23, and covered 100% of childcare tuition for parents who qualified as essential workers. 

Officials with the YMCA in the Pikes Peak Region says 60% of those campers were already enrolled in their after-school program before the pandemic - but the other 40% consists of kids who needed immediate care upon school closures. 

As to how many kids will still be enrolled once funding stops is still to be determined. 

But officials with the YMCA say many parents will still be receiving money from the state, even when the collaborative ends. 

Because of the high volume of applications, the state is still playing catch-up. 

"As people are getting approved, they are actually back-paying people's tuition since March, so we've had a continuous flow of people getting accepted since then," says Melanie Zuniga, Executive Director of YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. 

Zuniga says the collaborative coming to an end in May doesn't come as a surprise.

“At the beginning of it, they were very open with not continuing the program without funding sources," says Zuniga. "As it kind of progressed, we were notified that it was extended, but I think they finally came to the end of funding."

As for what care will look like this summer, Zuniga says they're hoping to operate their childcare services remotely at local elementary schools. 

The would then use their facilities exclusively for gym members only. 

Zuniga says they're also going to continue self-contained groups into summer, which keeps kids around the exact same group every day. 

However, one hurdle their programs are facing is how they're going to afford to get kids to camp. 

In order to abide by social distancing guidelines, they can only have 12 kids on a bus at a time, which means they will have to pay for more buses.  

If you're worried about how you're going to afford childcare once this collaborative ends, you do have options. You can apply for the childcare assistance program through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP).

The YMCA also offers financial assistance directly through their institution. 

Colorado Springs / Local News

Mia Villanueva

Mia is a weekday reporter for Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Mia here.