TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– As the school year comes to a close and more parents are returning to work in-person, Tompkins County has created the 2020 Summer Planning Youth Taskforce in an attempt to increase access to limited summer programming and child care.

Due to unprecedented health and safety concerns, along with significant budget shortfalls, our youth have been out of schools for months and now face what looks like a dismal summer ahead with few options for social interaction or positive youth development,” said Kate Shanks-Booth the Tompkins director of youth services department.

Several youth agencies have joined the county in their efforts including educational institutions, community members, camp providers, nonprofits and municipal representatives.

Shanks-Booth said the task force has been focused on combining services –– providing child care while also distributing food and health information amongst other things.

“There’s a lot of talk about how to combine forces,” she said.

As the result of initial conversations three subgroups have formed within the task force –– Summer Programming, Equity in Access, and Clearinghouse/Information Sharing.

The summer programming sub group has been putting together a searchable Summer Camp Guide to keep the public updated on what camps are offering programs and in what capacity. The equity team has taken on the project of ensuring broadband connectivity across the county so kids everywhere can take advantage of online classes and activities. And the clearinghouse group has paired with the county 211 information line to streamline access to reliable coronavirus related information going into the summer.

As a reminder to parents using the Summer Camp Guide, because things are changing every day make sure to speak directly with the director of the camp or program to verify information on enrollment and start dates, contact Kristee Morgan at the County Public Health Department, 274-6688, or contact the Child Development Council at 273-0259 about camps operated by school-aged child care programs (SACCs) if you are in absolute need for care.

For parents who receive public assistance, contact the Department of Social Services regarding subsidized fees for 2020 camps through Laura Hendrickson at (607) 274-5612.

For more information and or to get involved in the Task Force and or subgroups, please contact Kate Shanks- Booth at kshanks@tompkins-co.org or Megan Tifft at met38@cornell.edu.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com