Originally by Network For Youth Success’s SAC Spotlight. The New York State Network for Youth Success is dedicated to building a youth-serving system that increases the quality and availability of afterschool and expanded learning programs.
The Network for Youth Success supports all programs that promote young people’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development outside the traditional school day.
Karen Parlapiano, Childcare Coordinator at the Southern Saratoga YMCA
Karen started working with the Capital District YMCA in 2016 after having her own successful in-home daycare. Karen told us she was introduced to the world of summer camp that year. “Coming in and seeing what I could add to a child’s summer was a ton of fun!”
Her current role is the Childcare Coordinator at the Southern Saratoga YMCA. She helps mentor and lead other site supervisors with their own successful programs. She also lends staffing assistance and acts as a liaison for parents.
Karen has four children of her own and had been in the childcare field before deciding to take on her position with the YMCA. Karen said, “When my children were leaving the house, [I decided] that I should leave too! I was welcomed into the workforce by my supportive boss and I have been loving it ever since.”
“We get kids at their best and worst time of the day…afterschool! They want and crave freedom and chaos and we have to reel some of that energy in to conduct programming and provide a safe place to be.”
When it comes to the importance of afterschool, Karen notes how having a safe and nurturing environment to send a child to is not always achievable for all families. Karen told us, “We can sneak some learning in there when the kids aren’t looking. The kids think we are more than care providers. They often call us teachers. An honor that I don’t take lightly. We get kids at their best and worst time of the day…afterschool! They want and crave freedom and chaos and we have to reel some of that energy in to conduct programming and provide a safe place to be. We have them for just a short time, so our time together should be the best it possibly can be!”
Karen said her favorite part of her job is “The Magic.” Karen has seen children go from withdrawn and quiet to bubbly and light. She said, “I love it when something seemingly silly that I have done with them becomes something they talk about for the rest of the day or gets its own ‘life’ in the program. Those little things, those magic moments, that mean the world to the kids. There is magic every day with those kids and I’m glad to take in some of that energy!”