Every year a week is set aside to appreciate the professionals who care for our children afterschool and all summer long. DMPS has 82 Metro Kids Care staff members who work in 26 elementary school buildings serving around 700 children in Des Moines.

“Our staff were flexible, adaptable, and worked tirelessly to support students and families,” said Bobbie Sheridan, the district’s afterschool care coordinator.

They proved it this year, serving families whether the school-day is virtual, hybrid or 100% in-person. During full-day programming, staff were acting as teachers, assistants, caregivers, counselors and so much more to support students with their academic learning and social emotional needs.

Metro Kids is a licensed childcare center that provides enrichment activities (STEM, arts and crafts, music, etc.) tying back to the school-day. Metro Kids is also part of the Iowa Quality Rating System, a voluntary rating system through the Iowa Department of Human Services. All DMPS sites are at levels 4 or 5, the highest levels possible.

“We also have 21st Century Community Learning Centers at 16 schools,” Sheridan said. “This is federal funding we receive to provide after school opportunities while partnering with a number of community partners including Girl Scouts, 4-H, Sylvan Learning, and the Afterschool Arts Program.”

Afterschool programming provides students with not only a safe place to be afterschool, but it also supports the workforce. Parents and guardians rely on a safe space for their children so they can attend work. Metro Kids, being part of the school-day building, offers that safe space.

“Our team is amazing,” Sheridan said. “They take whatever we throw at them with grace and stride. We are always looking at ways to improve, and make positive change, and are staff are always willing to make that change. They are truly a caring group, who love children and families and want to make every effort to support them. They all have big hearts.”

In support of the caring professionals providing safe space to grow at DMPS, please join us in wishing them a Happy National Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week.

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