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Stressed about childcare? | Daycares and preschools offer parents new expanded options

Many parents can't stay home with their kids as schools begin virtual classes, so preschools are opening doors to older school age children.

HOUSTON — This has been a really stressful time for parents. Many just can't stay home with their kids to help them with their virtual learning, so daycares and preschools are stepping in to fill the void. 

"It just snowballs from there you're relying on these kiddos to get online and do their own thing while parents are trying to work from home," Karla Shirley said. 

Shirley owns and runs Woodforest Academy, a private pre-K in Spring. She and her staff are now providing care for school age children up to 12 years old. 

"We're going to do our best to do what certified teachers do to get these kiddos through the first three weeks of school," Shirley said. 

It's another option parents have as they juggle with how to handle the delayed start of in person classes during the pandemic. 

"It's going to really hit these families hard, even though right now we're only talking about three weeks it's a big challenge," she said.

Think of it as an altered home school experience. Instead of doing their virtual classes at home, parents can drop off their children at daycare. They'll need to bring their laptops or resources for classes provided by local districts. 

Daycare staff will be there to assist. 

RELATED: Parents say indecision, late planning by school districts are forcing them to come up with alternatives

The demand is overwhelming. 

"Right now we're maxed out," Shirley said. "There are 16 kiddos who have signed up. We've closed that door on the opportunity."

Unlike public schools, private pre-Ks and daycares have stayed open during the pandemic. They've had time to fine tune sanitization techniques and safety protocols like daily temperature checks to keep children safe. 

"We're doing our best to do what we're mandated and go beyond as well," said Shirley. 

For now, Shirley says they plan to offer this new expanded child care option at least through Sept. 8, but that could change as districts continue to tweak their reopening plans. 

"Everybody needs to work together," Shirley said. "These are uncharted waters for all of us, families, children, service providers. We're all doing the best we can."

Woodforest Academy says it's charging parents between $165 to $175 a week for this service. And they're not alone. Other daycares across Houston are offering similar options as a way to help parents and also boost declining enrollment numbers.