VIDEO: South San Francisco parents camp out to get their children spots in before, after-school programs

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — What lengths would you go to get your children into a before or after-school program?

In South San Francisco, parents are pulling out all the stops to get their kids a spot.

At a recreation building, parents have been camping out since 3:30 a.m. South San Francisco parks and rec administrators say 600 kids use their before and after-school programs but there are less than 40 spots left.

And that is forcing parents, or people they’ve paid to sit out there overnight, for a chance to sign up.

“I got a tent. I got a chair, sleeping bag, and other stuff” parent Eugene Melamoud said. “And I’m proud. I’m ready to go.”

Melamoud is camping out at South San Francisco’s Joseph A. Fernekes recreation building, but it’s not for fun.

He is one of dozens of parents who are waiting in line for the chance to sign up their kids for the programs once school starts back up in August.

“It’s absolutely insane we are in a place which has some of the best companies in the world,” Melamoud said. “Certainly, this should not be happening in Silicon Valley.”

Parks and recreation run the before and after-school programs at six campuses across the district.

Director Sharon Ranals says about 600 students in the district use the service but there are less than 40 spots left.

“All three of my kids went to before and after-school care,” Sharon Ranals said. “I was a single mom for most of those years. And I would not have made it without it. So, I’m very sympathetic with these families.”

Ranals says the high demand is most likely because of a low unemployment rate and a need for both parents in each household to work.

“We are seeing really a big surge in development in South San Francisco,” Ranals said. “We have more employees coming to town and we have more residents coming to town.”

“We are a working family,” Melamoud said. “So, both me and my wife work…so if there’s no after care…the schedule is disrupted.”

Returning students enrolled last year have priority, so it’s incoming kids whose parents are concerned if they’ll get in.

So much so, some hired people like Coleen Charles through the app TaskRabbit to sit in line for them.

“I’m sitting here in line for like 27 hours so that they can go to work,” Charles said.

“…It’s gotten a lot harder to get in after school programs nowadays,” she added. “I never had to go through this much hassle with my kids.”

The program isn’t free. Before and after care five days a week costs $399 every month.

This coming year, the cost could go up by 5 percent to $416 if a childcare vote is passed in June.

Parks and rec works with families around their pay periods, set up installments, and help find scholarships to cover the expenses.

Parks and recreation administrators say Buri Buri Elementary School is already full.

They are working to open up one more location but it’s not that easy.

The request first has to be passed by the city council and then licensed by the Department of Social Services.

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