Some Bend parents won the lottery on Wednesday – leaving hundreds more wondering what to do with their kids after school this fall.
Bend Parks and Recreation notified the families of about 1,000 children that they had been randomly selected for a coveted spot in the popular Kids Inc. program.
The district received about 1,400 requests, similar to last year.
The program, which last year served more than 700 children, is offered on-site at all Bend elementary schools except Amity Creek and Westside Village.
Sue Boettner, the recreation services manager for BPRD, said they’re doing what they can considering space and staffing issues that limit the number of kids they can serve.
“We understand the critical need for childcare after school for working parents. We empathize with that,” she said. “However, a single organization can’t provide that for the community. We’re striving to do our best and we feel like we’re really proud of what we do at 14 elementary schools, with over a thousand children.”
For the first time, the Kids Inc. registration process was a lottery, in an effort to remove barriers to the registration process.
The district had concerns with the technology access and the early morning first-come-first-served process that was a disadvantage to many community members.
BPRD toyed with the idea of a lottery registration system in 2020, but parent input was strongly against it.
Instead, the agency staggered registration dates by school to alleviate the crush of having everyone trying to sign up at the same time.
Boettner said they’re moving kids off the waitlist every day as they learn of families who got into the program but no longer need the child care.
She also said they’re working with Bend-La Pine Schools to find more space to add more kids.
“Hiring qualified staff is always a challenge,” Boettner said. “Especially this year.”