Program Will Provide Free Childcare at Hartford Learning Hubs

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The city of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation are funding a program to provide around  300 Hartford Public Schools students in kindergarten through third grade with free childcare at Learning Hubs around the city.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez and Hartford Foundation for Public Giving President Jay Williams held a news conference Thursday to announce more details about the program, which Bronin said will start at the end of this month and it will continue for six months.

A news release said the learning hubs are safe, in-person environments for students to participate in remote learning and they will be operated by community organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities, Community Renewal Team, the YMCA of Greater Hartford, and the YWCA Hartford Region.

Torres-Rodriguez said they have heard from people in the community that it is challenging for families to support children while they are learning remotely during this ongoing pandemic.

This service will provide childcare as well as support for children who are learning from a distance.

Children have been more online than ever this year as the pandemic has moved learning out of the classroom and onto the internet. NBC San Diego has conducted a yearlong investigation, titled "Stolen," into sex trafficking and the exploitation of children and found that the problem is much more widespread than most people realize. Investigative reporter Monica Dean joined LX News to discuss what they found.

To be eligible, a child must be a resident of Hartford; enrolled in hybrid or remote kindergarten, first, second, or third grade at Hartford Public Schools; and have a parent or caregiver who meets low- to moderate-income requirements.

Bronin said he knows this is not enough and there are many more families than this program can help, but hopes it will make a big difference for the families who can take part.

Some spots will be set aside for teachers who might need them and the city will work with principals to identify families who might be in particular need for support and prioritize who needs them most while helping as many people as possible.

The mayor said the city took $1 million from city-administered community development block grant funding, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving contributed $500,000.

Williams said $100,000 of the $500,000 the foundation is investing came from an individual donor, "who has that much concern and passion and commitment to the well-being of hundreds and hundreds of children and families in the city of Hartford and truly for the greater Hartford region."

More information is available online or by calling the Department of Families, Children, Youth, and Recreation at 860-757-9595.

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