A student at Scarborough’s new daycare facility on Payne Road shoots a basket in the former warehouse-turned-gymnasium, while Ryan Colpitts, recreation coordinator for Scarborough Community Services, looks on. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH — The use of a Coronavirus Relief Fund grant has helped with expenses for Community Services hybrid daycare program in the first 10 weeks.

Beginning on Oct. 5, Scarborough Community Services started an all-day hybrid daycare service on Payne Road, which fills a need for families with students out of school on distance learning days, said the town of Scarborough’s website.

A financial update for Sept. 23 through Nov. 30 shows that the program is currently under expected finances. Expected 10-week expenses were projected at $90,000 and in actuality amounted to $79,600.

“This was trying to put together a proposal to make this sort of financially viable model to step in where we anticipated there would be some community need to partial day or partial week childcare to complement the school’s reopening plan,” Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher said. “It was a proposal and an initiative that came together very quickly to try and fill in that gap. We used the numbers to the best of our ability with a new facility that we had no familiarity with.”

The program received Coronavirus Relief Funding of $59,000, Gallagher said. He and Todd Souza, Community Services director, expect the entirety of the funds to be used.

“We haven’t spent to-date what we thought we might,” Gallagher said. “Part of that is just adjusting, once we got into the facility, what those needs were. Part of that was accessing some grant funding.”

To figure out what the need would be, the town conducted community surveys and looked at people enrolled in childcare programs, Liam Gallagher, assistant town manager, said to the Scarborough Finance Committee on Dec. 15.

According to feedback from teachers, students who are enrolled in the service have performed better than those “left to their own devices, without that structure,” Gallagher said.

Some challenges that the program faces include staff and student enrollment, Souza said in a memo to the town manager. Community Services will continue to market and accept new program participants.

“I’m very proud of our staff as they have all stepped up into their role as counselor/educator, it has been very demanding on each of them,” he said. “They really want the children to succeed educationally as well as have a good time while with us, the two make for a positive environment.”

The average day sees about 35 participants, which reflects projections into week 12 and 13, according to enrollment data presented by Gallagher. At the beginning of the 10 weeks, an average day saw about 25 participants, but there has been turnover, some dropping out and others enrolling in the program.

Need from new families for the program may come from the end of paid-leave legislation, passed earlier in the spring and related to COVID-19, Gallagher said.

“That’s going to expire at the end of the calendar year, so there could very well be increased need after the first of the year, related to parents having to go back to work, no longer be able to take advantage of that employer paid leave,” he said. “We do have capacity, which is good news and we’re trending in the right direction in terms of enrollment.”

Community Services hopes to have more part-time staff retained, so as not to rely solely on full-time staff members, he said. As college students come home for vacation, some part-time positions will be filled.

“The hope is we will have a more robust inventory of part-time staff,” Gallagher said.

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