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September 30, 2014

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Parents find alternatives for childcare on schools’ days off

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Richard Brian

Malachi Elderridge, 5, waits for his mother, Tiaara, to cast her ballot on Election Day in the gymnasium at Basic High School in Henderson.

Nevada Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, Family Day — what's a parent to do with all of the days off from school?

November has been making life interesting for some parents, whose children are getting six days off in a matter of five weeks — Oct. 31 and Nov. 4, 10, 11, 27 and 28. On many of those days, parents still must go to work and find an alternate way of taking care of their children.

Some are expected — Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Family Day, the day after Thanksgiving — but others, such as Election Day, didn't make much sense to some parents.

Erik and Krissy Lange, Henderson residents who moved here from Wisconsin, said the schools in their hometown were used as voting stations, but the students were still expected to be at school.

The extra days off of school were odd, they said, but they haven't been too bad.

"Luckily, we have a daughter in high school," Erik Lange said.

She is old enough to take care of the two younger siblings while they're at work, he said.

Other parents have found a way to spend those days with their children, either because they also have the days off or because they stay at home.

Tiaara Perrin, a stay-at-home mom, took her children to the polls with her Nov. 4. They planned to go shopping afterward, so it was more convenient to make it a family event, she said.

Now that her youngest child is four months old, she is planning to go back to work before too long. Child care is something she will have to consider, and she plans to rely on other family members for help, she said.

"My sister is a college student, so I was hoping to use her services until my husband gets off work," Perrin said.

For parents who have to go to work and don't have money for a sitter, there are alternatives, including youth enrichment programs at Henderson recreation centers or Boys & Girls Clubs.

Kim Gettemeyer said she prefers to use the Kids Zone program offered at the Henderson Multigenerational Center, which her son Ethan has been attending for four years.

"I know he's safe here," she said.

Many parents, such as Gettemeyer, use the programs for weeks at a time during track breaks. However, drop-in day programs are available for parents whose children attend nine-month schools.

Each center can hold a maximum number, but during holidays and in-service days they will accept up to 150 additional children, Kim Becker, marketing and communications supervisor for Henderson parks and recreation, said.

Because of the limited space, parents are required to register their child in advance, which can be done by calling the closest recreation center.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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