PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia is partnering with community-based organizations to open Access Centers that will support Philadelphia children and their families this fall during digital learning time. The City-run Access Centers will be free of charge and located in neighborhoods to serve Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children.
Access Center staff will provide registered students with daily supervision during digital learning time (weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). They will also provide supplemental activities and meals. Site registration will be limited to align with health and safety guidelines, with most sites serving around 22 students. Registration priority will be given to students with the highest need who can’t safely stay at home during the school day.
“The City is committed to being a partner in our children’s education, especially as COVID-19 creates new challenges for families and students,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “As we prepare for nearly all Philadelphia students to participate in online learning at the start of the school year, we’ve redeployed our resources and engaged partners to create PHLConnectED and a network of Access Centers. These programs will help low-income families with their internet access and childcare needs during digital learning, and reduce the pandemic’s threat to our children’s education and their families’ stability.”
The first phase of 31 Access Centers will open on September 8 to serve 800 Philadelphia K–6th grade students. The majority of phase one sites will be Philadelphia Parks & Recreation rec centers, in addition to Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) sites. Additional locations will be added on a rolling basis.
“As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis creates additional challenges for families, we are proud of the continued collaboration between City departments and our community partners to create resourceful, responsive solutions like the new Access Centers,” said Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa. “The City’s Access Centers will provide supervised, connected spaces where children can participate in digital learning led by their schools.”
Employees from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Free Library will be supported by the Office of Children and Families’ Out-of-School Time network and community-based organizations. All staff will have appropriate training and child-abuse clearances. Centers will adhere to health and safety guidelines under the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s school-reopening guidance.
“Our rec centers serve neighborhoods as fun, safe, and welcoming places for young people to learn, play, and grow,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “We are excited to be able to offer working families a safe, familiar place for their kids to do digital learning while the school buildings are closed. The new Access Centers are a great example of what can be achieved when we work together as a city to put Philadelphia’s children first.”
Eligibility and registration:
Philadelphia students can qualify to register for an Access Center if they:
- are entering Kindergarten through 6th grade.
- are children of caregivers working outside the home who cannot provide supervision or are not able to afford childcare.
- have no in-home internet. (Please note – up to 35,000 eligible K-12 households can use PHLConnectEd to get free internet service. Find out more.)
More information about how to register will be posted on the City’s website, phila.gov, the week of August 24.