This week the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) announced a new program called the Safer at Parks Alternative Learning Centers and After School Program, designed to give families and students relief with childcare and studying assistance during COVID-19 pandemic. City Council President Nury Martinez and AP Diaz, Chief of Staff at Recreation and Parks, kicked off the program Thursday morning by welcoming parents to the Delano Recreation Center.
Parents can enroll their children in structured learning centers and after school programs for elementary and middle school students at sixty recreation centers across the City. The centers offer supervised learning spaces, free internet access, recreational activities, and more to support children forced into distance learning.
The program is funded by a plan proposed by Martinez and approved by the Los Angeles City Council and provides $30 million in free childcare relief for low-income working moms during the pandemic. $10 million has been allocated for 50 Alternative Learning Centers to function as educational child care centers at parks throughout the City.
Poinsettia Park (7341 Willoughby Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046) and Queen Anne Recreation (1240 West Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019) are the closest centers to the Larchmont Village area. The Alternative Learning Centers are now open and operating at these and 48 other park facilities across the City for elementary and middle school students, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Learning programs include supervised learning spaces, free internet, breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack, recreational activities and more. Registration is now open at laparks.org.
“During COVID-19, securing childcare is an enormous burden and concern for all working women, but for working-poor mothers it is utterly impossible to navigate without sacrificing food and rent or the health and safety of their families,” said Council President Martinez in a press statement. “These Alternative Learning Sites provide a solution, while allowing our students, many who do not have WiFi or the space to effectively study at home, a place to get fed, do their schoolwork and stay active in a socially distanced environment.”
“The Department of Recreation and Parks is excited to offer an alternative learning program to ensure no child is left behind when it comes to their education” said Mike Shull, General Manager of Recreation and Parks. “This pandemic may have changed our recreation traditions, but it has not kept us from being able to support our communities in a time of need.”
All learning centers follow guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Center for Disease and Prevention ensuring our city’s youth are staying safe while learning virtually and participating in afterschool activities. Safety guidelines include daily screenings for youth and staff upon arrival, face covering will be required, maintain two stable groups of 12, sanitizing breaks, frequent hand washing, rotation to outdoor space, and all activities are adapted for physical distancing and are non-contact.
As we approach this holiday weekend where many will gather during this pandemic, we are reminded once again how our public parks do so much more than provide green recreational space. During this challenging time, our parks have provided temporary housing for our unhoused neighbors, respite for residents cooped inside their homes during the Safer At Home orders, gathering places for community conversations and social protests, and now they will be doubling as classrooms for our youngest students who have been forced into distance learning. If you want to support our public parks, visit the LA Parks Foundation website to learn more about their work supporting and expanding our public park system.