Newsletter

Morning Notes

Alexandria announces $7.1 million in funding for first-time homebuyers — “The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the availability of Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) funds to provide eligible first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for their home purchase. SPARC is a special allocation to local governments to reduce first trust mortgage interest rates.” [City of Alexandria]

Six ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in Alexandria — “Port City Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen brew is a Bavarian-style wheat hale pouring hazy golden with fluffy white foam, tinged with aromas of clove and spice with a softer note of ripe banana. Pick up a four-pack via curbside pickup or Port City On Demand, or sip at an outdoor table at the West End headquarters.” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Showers likely along with a possible rumble of thunder in the morning, then partly cloudy late. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 53F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Play expert — “Play Experts provide engaging and educational services to children in their homes. A step above a typical caregiver, our Play Experts are trained in child development as well as positive-behavior systems. They understand the importance of developmentally appropriate and engaging play, as well as consistent structure and boundaries.” [Indeed]

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The Child and Family Network Centers was all set up to open preschool to kids in low-income families on September 8, but a recently burst sewer pipe inside their Arlandria/Chirilagua-based classroom has put the program on hold for more than a dozen area children.

The nonprofit is launching a $50,000 fundraiser and is tapping into its reserves to renovate the classroom, which is located in an apartment within the Arlandria-Chirilagua Housing Cooperative. The classroom provides critical child care and education for low-income, immigrant essential workers in the heavily Latino section of Alexandria.

“It’s really difficult to find classroom space, especially in Chirilagua right now,” Jackie Didio, the executive director of CFNC, told ALXnow. “If we don’t open on time we’ll have playdates and at least try to get the kiddos at that outside playground in front of the building. We’re going to try our best to support the families as much as we can while we’re fixing the classroom.”

The classroom/apartment has also now become infested with fleas. The necessary work includes plumbing repairs, replacing all of the furniture and classroom supplies, as well as installing new cabinets and carpeting.

“We’re actually in the search this year for even more classroom spaces because the need is so high, but it’s really difficult to find space, especially in Chirilagua right now,” Didio said. “We were open all last year, too, and that was a challenge. We’re trying to serve the families in our low-income communities here in Alexandria… I know we have such an amazing community and with your help, I know that we can do it.”

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces modified out of school time school year recreation program — “The City of Alexandria will offer a modified Out of School Time Program (OSTP) for elementary school aged children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade for the 2021-22 school year. The after-school recreation program is scheduled for August 23, 2021 through June 10, 2022, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Charles Barrett; Charles Houston; Mount Vernon; Leonard “Chick” Armstrong; Nannie J. Lee; Patrick Henry; and William Ramsay recreation centers, and at the Ferdinand T. Day; John Adams; and Douglas MacArthur elementary schools.” [City of Alexandria]

Council candidate Patrick Moran testifies for bringing back School Resource Officer funding — “Moran calls for the full implementation of body cameras for Alexandria Police Department (APD) officers and for corrective action to protect Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students’ safety in 2021-22 School Year.” [YouTube]

Senior center gets upgrade — “St. Martin de Porres Senior Center on Taney Ave. has served Alexandria’s seniors for 45 years. During the pandemic, the site has been closed. This provided HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV) with an opportunity to undertake a $44,000 upgrade of the facility.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies (during the day). High near 80F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 61F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Floral clerk at Balducci’s — “As a Floral Clerk, some of your duties will include stocking the department with fresh flowers, potted plants, balloons, and other floral merchandise. You will design and create custom floral arrangements and make product recommendations for our customers’ special occasions. Your job will be to provide customers with exceptional customer service.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Jollibee to open first Alexandria restaurant — “The Filipino chicken restaurant Jollibee is bringing its signature Chickenjoy to Alexandria. Jollibee will open in Lincolnia at the intersection of Beauregard Street and Little River Turnpike. The building was previously occupied by Boston Market. Jollibee has about 40 restaurants in the United States — primarily in California — and more than 1,300 restaurants worldwide.” [Alexandria Living]

Bishop Ireton seniors win honors — “Congratulations to senior Mary Kate Mull who was named the Commonwealth of Virginia Young Woman of the Year by the Knights of Columbus! She is the first BI student to win this statewide prestigious honor. Mary Kate and senior Critter Johnson were named Young Woman and Young Man of the Year by the Knights of Columbus, Fitzgerald Council #459. Seniors Madeleine Klunder and Aidan Fedorochko received the same honors from the Knights of Columbus, Springfield Council #6153. Bravo to these amazing students!” [Facebook]

Gastropub ‘Old Hat Bar’ opens May 21 at the Former King Street Blues location — “Anticipating their opening for almost two years, friends and business partners, Jack Caminos and Tim Prosser are looking forward to introducing Old Town to Old Hat Bar Friday, May 21. Newly renovated 112 N. Saint Asaph Street, the former King Street Blues location, has kept some of the booths and has refinished the original bars along with adding their own artistic style to the location.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy (during the day). High around 75F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph… Mostly cloudy (in the evening). Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Child watch attendant –– “The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is one of the largest charities in the DC area. The Y serves as an anchor in the community offering programs and services encompassing youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.” [Indeed]

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If you are a daycare provider or have kids in child care, the Alexandria Health Department will conduct the first of virtual two town hall meetings on the subject starting tonight (Thursday, Oct. 15) at 6 p.m.

“Guardians will be reminded of the steps they can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and share resources,” notes a city release.

One recommendation the city asks is for child care providers to complete an emergency child care provider registration form.

“This application is for any child care center or family day home program,” according to the city. “To date, the response has been strong. It is clear that the child care community wants to do what they can to help.”

Parents are also asked to fill out the parent child care needs registration form, and the city says it will notify families of “potential care providers that meet their needs.”

Topics of discussion include:

As of Oct. 5, there are more than 60 child care providers in the city. Over the summer, the Alexandria Emergency Child Care Collaborative and Smart Beginnings Alexandria hosted a virtual child care open house.

The next virtual town hall will be held on Monday, October 19, at 6 p.m.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Wishes Speedy Recovery, Then Refutes Trump Tweet — “We continue to hope that the President is feeling well and will recover swiftly, but it must be pointed out that this is a bunch of nonsense. None of it is true.” [Twitter]

City Offering Free COVID Tests — “In partnership with our friends at @NeighborhoodHth the City will be hosting free COVID-19 testing events every week this month throughout our City.”  [Twitter]

DASH Adding Six Electric Buses — “The buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America and Proterra.  They are 40 feet in length and rely completely on battery power rather than gasoline.” [Zebra]

Commonwealth Avenue Improvements Proposed — “A portion of Commonwealth Avenue in the Rosemont area is scheduled to be repaved in 2021, and the city is seeking feedback on improvements that could go along with it.” [Patch]

Walk to Bust Breast Cancer Goes Virtual — “This month you may notices some painted angel wings around Alexandria. These wings are part of the National Breast Center Foundation’s new Angel Wing Challenge associated with the annual Walk to Bust Breast Cancer, which looks a little different this year.” [Alexandria Living]

Recreation Centers Providing Childcare for Essential Workers — “There are currently 250 students enrolled in the full-day program at no cost to families. Many of these children have parents who are essential workers.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear skies (at night). Low near 55F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Marketing Communications Specialist — “To be successful in this position, the Marketing Communications Specialist must demonstrate strong persuasive writing skills, strong digital layout design skills and be an overall expert in digital and social media marketing.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria is working with regional partners to determine the challenges facing families needing childcare amid the pandemic, and have released a survey to the public.

The survey, which is open until August 30, has 12 questions and asks respondents how many children they have, the hours the adults in the home work, and about the challenges facing them with childcare.

The survey is part of a collaboration between the Emergency Child Care Collaborative and Smart Beginnings Alexandria.

“The results will help the task force and local partners better understand the needs and preferences of Alexandria families as they work with child care providers to develop and provide child care offerings,” according to the city.

Families, please participate in this online survey to help assess child care needs and preferences in Alexandria during…

Posted by Department of Community & Human Services, City of Alexandria, VA on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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Alexandria is hosting an online open house this Wednesday to try to connect local families with an affordable range of child care options.

A virtual open house is scheduled for August 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. on Zoom. Participants can register online to receive a link to the Zoom call.

“The Open House on August 18 will virtually showcase just a few of the child care options in the City,” said Robin Crawley, the city employee running the program. “Programs across the City may offer both in-person and virtual options. While programs have already established their plans for in-person programming… virtual options are being considered as we continue to hear the voices of parents and their preferences.”

Crawley said families can identify their child care needs in an online survey to prioritize care based on location, time of day, age of children and preferred structure of care.

“As COVID-19 requires additional demands on our workforce to support our health care system and essential services, child care will be a vital part of Alexandria’s response,” the city said on its website. “The Department of Community and Human Services is partnering in a local Emergency Child Care Collaborative (ECCC) to assess needs and establish a system of emergency child care accordingly.”

The collaboration is aimed at finding child care for those who have no other options, like keeping family with a relative or other safe arrangements.

“There are public and private options for child care in the City,” Crawley said. “Out of pocket costs for families fall along a continuum. For instance, there is no out of pocket costs for publicly funded child care programs like the City of Alexandria Head Start Program, The Campagna Center Early Head Start Program and  ACPS Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Program. Some programs like Child and Family Network Centers charge only a registration fee or family co-payment based on their established mission. Creative Play School along with other programs participate in a mixed delivery approach to child care costs which helps them to leverage local, state, and family funds in order to make child care affordable.”

Crawley said the goal was to work with various child care providers to create options affordable to various income brackets.

“Through a combination of for profit and non-profit programs, the City of Alexandria is committed to making equitable, affordable and quality child care options accessible for all families regardless of income or zip code,” Crawley said.

Alexandria City Public Schools is currently also trying to put together plans to offer child care during school hours.

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Most of Alexandria’s students will not be going back to in-person schooling, but many parents likely will be going back to work, which leaves some local parents figuring out how to provide care for their children during the day.

As part of the Virtual PLUS+ program approved by the School Board, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has committed to providing child care for families in need. Following on the way programs were handled this summer, that could entail prioritizing spots to families most in need.

“We talk about our most vulnerable families, we’re talking specifically about families that have jobs and their livelihood can be impacted if they don’t have the necessary child-care options,” said Superintendent Gregory Hutchings at a School Board meeting on Aug. 7. “Many of the criteria [this summer] was families most in need of these services were afforded that option first, and if there were opportunities or spots available they were opened to members of our community.”

Hutchings said they were looking specifically at students with special needs, english learners, and students performing below reading level or grade level. Beyond childcare, Hutchings said those were the being considered for additional virtual supports. Read More

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When the pandemic hit in March, many mothers late into their pregnancies who were preparing to give birth in a hospital were left with difficult decisions.

For BirthCare & Women’s Health, a midwife service in Old Town, that meant a new wave of parents looking for alternatives.

“We’ve had a real influx of people in March — a lot of calls and people transferring in who were afraid to go to the hospital,” said Marsha Jackson, certified nurse-midwife and owner/director of BirthCare & Women’s Health. “There was so much that wasn’t known about COVID-19. Every day there was a change so people were uncomfortable going to the hospital… We have had more interest in home births.”

BirthCare & Women’s Health has been around for 33 years, opening as a home birth practice in 1987, and, four years later, expanding into a free-standing birth center at 1501 King Street in Old Town. The center provides an alternative to giving birth in a hospital, whether that means sending a midwife to a home to help a mother in her delivery or bringing her to their facility.

Jackson said the advantage of home births or births at the BirthCare & Women’s Health is that women can deliver their babies where they feel more comfortable and relaxed.

“One of the benefits has been families who are now pregnant or considering pregnancy are really closely looking at all of their options — and really considering having home or birth center birth,” Jackson said. “If she’s a healthy woman having a normal pregnancy, the safest place for her to give birth would be a place where she feels comfortable and safe. That place is oftentimes in her home.”

When the pandemic started, Jackson said her company also offered the benefit of not having mothers share a facility that was also treating a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We had to do a lot of screenings very quickly,” Jackson said. “We had a couple of clients transfer in [that] were due to have their babies in two weeks. We were able to get everything in place… One family had a baby within a week of their first visit.  The mom went into labor in the next couple of days and had the baby, and it was wonderful.”

Work at BirthCare & Women’s Health changed as well. Appointments were spaced out to avoid unnecessary contact between patients and the facility started using more telehealth for prenatal visits — but in-person visits and births continued.

“We wipe our bags more than we used to when we go to the homes,” Jackson said. “When we come, we have a couple of suitcases with supplies and equipment. We sometimes put down a surface where we put our bags on the floor. One of the things we found out: a lot of the things we’ve instituted to make sure things are sanitized — we were already doing that. Whatever we took out of the bags, we sanitize with alcohol or wipes before replacing them in our bags.”

The facility also limited the number of people present for births to ten: including the midwife and doula, but not including the baby. One of the biggest changes was asking visitors to a birth to self-isolate for a week before attending.

Even as Alexandria starts reopening, Jackson said she’s starting to see more mothers comfortable going back to hospitals, but that the service is still busier than it usually is.

“Our May census was full,” Jackson said. “Our census in August is full. A lot of that is due to COVID-19. In April, our census picked up. Before COVID-19 our numbers were a little down.”

Jackson said even as some parents are returning to plans to give birth at a hospital, the pandemic did put home births back into public awareness for prospective parents.

“A lot of the families that may not have considered the option for home births now are considering that,” Jackson said. “Our census for January is filling quickly. We limit clients to  20 per month, and we’re already more than halfway there. That’s early for us, to be almost full for that month.”

Photo via BirthCare & Women’s Health/Facebook

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