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Boys and Girls Club offering childcare for Bellevue families during Friday's school closure

The Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue will offer activities, homework help, breakfast, lunch and a late afternoon snack.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — The Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue (BGCB) is hoping to fill a void for parents worried about childcare after the Bellevue School District canceled school for Friday.

Eight Boys and Girls Club locations in Bellevue will have free childcare for Bellevue families from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Truly turning no kid away is kind of our goal for Friday," said BGCB President Tim Motts. "We think there are some kids we're going to see waiting outside the door at 8 a.m."

Motts said they expect hundreds of kids. The centers have a capacity of 750, but BGCB will make adjustments if it surpasses that number.

The locations will offer activities, homework help, breakfast, lunch and a late afternoon snack. Motts believes with schools closed there's a need to make sure children are fed.

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"I got a few calls from parents saying, 'Look, I plan out the meals, my food rations and my money to the day, and now that my four kids aren't getting their breakfast and lunch from school, I don't know how I'm going to replace that in my budget. I don't know how I'm going to get through the weekend,'" said Motts.

The BGCB typically offers afterschool programs, but when schools were closed, the club offered all-day remote childcare, which Motts said has prepared them for Friday.

The district announced the closure on Tuesday, saying, "School will be closed because of staffing shortages, anticipated inclement weather and COVID-19 restrictions."

A makeup day is planned for Jan. 28.

The Bellevue School District said it hopes this doesn't happen again in 2021, but there wasn't a guarantee. The district also hopes to give parents more notice if there is another cancelation. It's looking ahead at staffing improvements for 2022.

Motts said the BGCB board will meet Thursday to discuss its role in the district's staff shortage.

"What we want to figure out is a path forward," said Motts. "Ideally, we don't make these decisions on a Tuesday night for Friday. So, we're going to be talking through that because I would agree, this could potentially become a long-term challenge. Our kids, their needs aren't going to go away."

Parents looking to bring their child to one of the BGCB locations are asked to register ahead of time by contacting the club at 425-454-6162. Motts said registration isn't required, but it will help with organization and coordinating resources.

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