Parents depend on Camp Fire to fill childcare void
Before the bell rang for morning classes at Rogers Park Elementary School, third-grader Sabrina Mason had already been at school for an hour.
She’s the fourth and final kid in her family to attend the Camp Fire before-school program.
“I like that I get to hang out with friends that aren’t in my class and I like that everyone is nice to each other,” Sabrina said.
There are about 30 before- and after-school sites for about 1,500 kids. For Ella Ede, Sabrina’s mother, the programs provide a peace of mind.
“We haven’t had to worry,” Ede said. “As a working parent it’s so important your kids have a safe place to be.”
Sabrina and her friends played a game of Trouble while other students built airplanes from Legos or squared off in an Apples to Apples match.
Across town, Camp Fire Alaska Council CEO Barbara Dubovich spends a lot of her time behind a desk too.
“Super fun stuff. It’s our budget season,” she laughed.
Dubovich said she puts up with the paperwork because of her passion for getting kids the care they need.
“For me it’s about reaching kids at a time in their lives where they need the help and support that will make them more productive and successful as they go on to live their lives,” she said.
She’s been giving back to the community through Camp Fire for 35 years, transitioning from being a site director to now running the entire nonprofit. Dozens of plaques and service awards fill her office, as well as a declaration from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz that designated Sept. 3, 2016 as Barbara Dubovich Day.
She said while the recognition is nice, what really motivates her is seeing how many parents need the help.
“More and more of our youth are in need of our programs,” she said. “I think we are continuing to be challenged by ensuring that programs are affordable and accessible for families.”
That’s also why Camp Fire offers scholarships to lower-income families.
Dubovich said she plans to continue expanding the program so kids can have a safe place to go while their parents are at work.
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