Twenty years ago, to address the growing need for affordable and family-friendly childcare in Rye, a small group of local women organized the first Kids’ S.P.A.C.E (School Based Program of Activity Care and Enrichment).
Twenty years ago, to address the growing need for affordable and family-friendly childcare in Rye, a small group of local women organized the first Kids’ S.P.A.C.E (School Based Program of Activity Care and Enrichment). The original committee included residents Stefanie Buckley, Mary Jo Cecil, Ita O’Sullivan, and Victoria Sterling, as well as many behind-the-scenes supporters. They researched and visited other programs, conducted surveys, and reached out at meetings district-wide.
In trying to sell the concept of childcare in Rye, the committee, surprisingly, encountered pockets of community resistance. After clearing the critical hurdle of obtaining School District approval for shared space, supporters invested endless hours over the summer to be ready for the opening of school. This work included forming a board, raising money through donations and tag sales, hiring a director and staff, licensing the program, outfitting the space, setting up office systems, and filing the non-profit in corporation paperwork.
Kids’ S.P.A.C.E. opened at Milton School in September 1994, with about 90 families. From the start, the program offered a variety of enrichment programs and a flexible schedule, which appealed to working parents. The program thrives with a staff of 12 professionals and a 12-member board comprised of Rye residents, parents, teachers, and professionals with diverse expertise. To help meet its mission, the organization now collaborates with other local non-profits, including the Rye Youth Council, Rye YMCA, and The Osborn Retirement Community.
Now based at Osborn School, the program balances unstructured creative playtime with homework assistance and loads of physical fitness options. In a challenging economy, Kids’ S.P.A.C.E. remains a safe and affordable option that parents can count on.
The program is open to any child in the Rye City School District, in kindergarten through fifth grade, and currently serves over 160 children, many of whom are from single or dual-career families. The flexible schedule ensures that the child who needs care once a week, once a month, or once a year has the same opportunity to use the program as the child who needs care on a daily basis.
Since its inception, Kids’ S.P.A.C.E. has served over 2,500 children, through its three components: Breakfast Club, After Kindergarten program, and After School program. All of its programs encourage self-confidence and self-expression as well as responsibility, decision-making, and respect for others. The program is supervised by a qualified and nurturing staff, in a safe and secure environment, with a variety of activities to appeal to boys and girls.
Kids’ S.P.A.C.E. continues to rely on the generosity of the community to help fund financial scholarships for families, update equipment, and run enrichment programs.
“We’re grateful to be operating in such a supportive community,” said longtime director Lauren Collins.
For more information or to support Kids’ S.P.A.C.E, visit www.kidsspaceofrye.org or call 921-3390.