Camp Barnabas to offer day care camp at Springfield church for SPS students with special needs
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With Springfield Public Schools holding staggered in-person classes at the start of the school year, many working parents are scrambling to find places for their children to stay on the days that they are not in school.
For parents with special needs children, they may have just found the place.
Starting August 24, Camp Barnabas is hosting Day Camp for Springfield Public Schools families at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield.
The nine-week version of day care is designed for families who have a child with special needs currently enrolled in Springfield Public Schools and will participate in the two-day week seated program for the first quarter this fall.
“This upcoming school year is a tough one for everyone, but it’s especially difficult for families who have a child with a disability,” says Krystal Simon, Camp Barnabas COO. “Many of these families need to work, and they also need a safe and affordable place for their children to learn, grow, and socialize during the day. We believe we have a way to help fill that need through our Day Camp.”
Springfield Day Camp families will have the option to choose a Monday and Tuesday, or Thursday and Friday schedule. Camp classrooms will max at 15 campers with three staff overseeing each class. The schedule will vary from school tutoring to fun day camp activities at the church facility.
Over the past 25 years Camp Barnabas has given around 90,000 campers with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities the chance to have the same summer camp experience that all youngsters enjoy. And although this year’s camps near Purdy were cancelled because of the pandemic, the faith-based organization decided to open the day care because they know the working parents of special needs youngsters need it.
Parents like Bethany Hornbeck, whose eight year-old daughter Aubrey, has Spina-bifida. Bethany’s husband works full-time and Bethany is a substitute teacher and full-time caregiver.
”It’s terrifying,” she said. “I’m being pulled in every which-way. For medical reasons, medical bills, I need to be working. Day cares aren’t gonna take my child. No one is going to take my child because she has a disability.”
“It’s parents who both work outside the home that don’t have family, don’t have a community to watch their son or daughter due to their level of care,” Simon said in describing the type of person their day camp is designed to help.
As a substitute teacher Bethany knows the important role schools play in the lives of special needs children.
“The school system is where so many of these kiddos get their services like physical therapy, OT and speech,” she pointed out. “And a lot of kids are from low incomes so it’s scares me that kids aren’t getting some needs met. But I’m also scared of kids getting sick.”
Like they do at their summer camps, Barnabas officials will have an on-site health services director and many safety measures in place at the day care as they are very experienced with handling high-risk patients.
“There is a lot of risk when you’re caring for anyone who has a disability and has a compromised immune system,” Simon explained. “In a lot of ways the safety measures that’s being implemented at SPS is procedures that we’ve had to implement at (summer) camp.”
Currently, Springfield Barnabas Day Camp has availability for 60 campers total (30 students per two days) and costs $100 per camper for the 9-week program. Scholarship assistance is available for those that need financial support. To learn more about the program call 417-476-2565 or to complete a Day Camp Interest Form at www.campbarnabas.org/daycamp.
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