FFY, EDC partner on Woodside shuttle

With schools out for the summer and working parents in need of child care, two local organizations are partnering to provide a day camp transportation option to southern Columbus and Bartholomew County.

With support from the Greater Columbus Indiana Economic Development Corp. (EDC), Foundation For Youth has launched a new shuttle service for the Woodside Industrial Park/Walesboro area.

FFY Director Chuck Kime said the shuttle is a pilot program that provides transportation from that area to Columbus Youth Camp so that kids may participate in Summer of Exploration activities.

According to FFY’s website, parents may drop off their kids at Centra Credit Union, 2010 W. County Road 450S in the early morning and return there for pick-up in the afternoon. In addition to transportation, kids are also provided breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Kime compared the shuttle to the other bus that transports children from the FFY Boys and Girls Club to Columbus Youth Camp.

“We often think that working in Walesboro can be a challenge for some parents, right?” he said. “And maybe this could be part of filling that gap.”

EDC President Jason Hester said the economic development corporation sees the project as a way to support both employers and working parents.

“Essentially, it is the EDC who made this possible,” Kime said.

In a recent presentation to Columbus City Council, Hester said that employees who are unsure of arranging child care in the summer may choose to stop working, so their support of the pilot is aimed at providing access to quality child care so that doesn’t happen.

FFY developed the pilot project, and the EDC approached them about the possibility of partnering on it, Hester said.

The EDC has authorized spending up to $38,250 from its special project fund to help support the pilot and also helped promote the shuttle to businesses.

The EDC’s support has included sponsoring the bus, driver and staff needed for the shuttle, as well as offsetting fees that families would have to pay for their children to participate, Kime said.

While noting the shuttle is a pilot program, the EDC hopes that the shuttle can continue in future years without its support, Hester said. The recent contribution was a “one-time commitment.”

Advance registration is required to use the Woodside shuttle, and Kime said its maximum is 40 kids. However, he estimated that they had about eight kids register for a recent week. He said this may be due to people either not being aware of the shuttle or not being clear on the details or how to sign up.

Families can register for the shuttle and summer programming at FFY’s website, he said. People with questions, such as in regards to discounts, can also contact [email protected].

“Through that, or even a phone call to our front desk, they can speak to our customer service folks who are very clear about what options are available to families and how they can get support,” he said.

“The shuttle costs nothing to any of these families, and then what would be our regular sliding fee scale or even some of our 100% off dollars are available to these families,” he said. “And then where necessary, the EDC is offsetting that sliding fee scale.”

According to FFY, a membership fee is required for each child but waived for parents who are employees of NTN and Faurecia as these are “cornerstone partners” of the foundation.

Camp registration and transportation costs are additional and based on a sliding scale based on household income, according to program guidelines.

Youth camp registration and transportation costs a maximum of $125 per week per child, but Woodside/Walesboro area working parents “may qualify for significant discounts made possible by a grant by Greater Columbus EDC and other sponsors.” Price is determined at registration.

“It’s a benefit to families, but we’re also trying to show our support for industry in town as well,” he said.

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To register for the shuttle and summer programming, go to foundationforyouth.com.

Anyone with questions about programming and/or discounts can contact [email protected] or call FFY customer service at 812-348-4558.