DOWNERS GROVE – Beginning this fall, parents in Downers Grove Grade School District 58 will soon have a new option for before and after school child care, as the Downers Grove Park District launches “The Link.'"
The new initiative is a recreation-based program for children in kindergarten through sixth grade based at the Lincoln Center, and will transport students to other park district facilities for classes or athletic programs.
Sara Cunningham, recreation specialist with the park district, said there is a need in the community for this type of program, and the Lincoln Center’s central location and proximity to the Metra station makes it a convenient option for parents.
"This is a unique program that helps parents with their busy schedules and their kids’ busy schedules,” she said. “And for kids, there will be lots of fun, rec-based activities so time will fly by. They’ll be able to complete their homework before going home. And this is also helpful for kids who previously might not have been able to sign up for rec programs because they didn’t have transportation, and now they’ll be able to participate.”
The program will also provide morning transportation to each child’s school, and busses will pick them up after school and bring them to the Lincoln Center. Parents can drop off their kids as early as 6:30 a.m. and can pick up as late as 6:30 p.m.
Once there, kids will be provided with a healthy snack, and will have time to complete homework before having the opportunity to participate in one of the many arts, dance or music classes at the Lincoln Center, or be bussed to the Rec Center for athletics.
The park district surveyed the community about two years ago to gauge the interest in a before and after school program, and the results showed parents would be interested in this type of program, said Jay Kelly, the park district's director of recreation.
“We’re very excited about [The Link] because it fulfills a need in the community and we think it’s going to be a very popular program," he said. "It also fills a void in our programming, and will allow for our other program areas to grow as well. Essentially, we’ll have a year-long child care program with the before and after school care program, our holiday programs and our summer camps."
Registration is open now and because it’s ongoing, bus routes will be based on enrollment and will be determined on May 1. Parents must register in-person at the Lincoln Center, and will have the option to enroll their kids for three, four or five days a week for before school, after school or both before and after school care. For more information about The Link, visit www.dgparks.org.