Trimble student council offers free childcare to attract more parents to parent-teacher conferences

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GLOUSTER, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) — Students at Trimble High School stepped up to bolster attendance at parent-teacher conferences by offering free childcare Thursday evening.

Trimble has struggled with poor attendance at parent-teacher conferences for years. School officials believe most parents are simply too busy to attend because they have to either work or look after younger children.

Sophomore and student council member Olivia Kasler said she and her younger sister have experienced the issue firsthand.

“I’m two years older than (my sister),” Kasler said. “I’m in the high school and she’s in the middle school, so it’s hard for my parents to get to both places. With parent-teacher conferences, they’ve always had to choose where they were going to go.”

She said she sees the same thing among her friends.

“One of my close friends, she watches her brother all the time. … Her mom has no time,” Kasler said.

A whiteboard advertises Child Care sponsored by THS student council.
High school students set up a childcare station in the cafeteria alongside tables with other resources for parents. [Theo Peck-Suzuki | WOUB Public Media]
The struggle to find adequate childcare is not unique to Trimble. The DeWine administration has directed money from the American Rescue Plan Act to childcare centers throughout Ohio in the hopes of improving access for parents across the state. Last year, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced a bill to make childcare more available and affordable in rural communities nationwide, but it has not advanced from committee.

Kasler and her fellow student council members hoped providing free childcare might incentivize more parents to attend. Along the same lines, the district invited volunteers from Trimble Bridgebuilders, Tri-County Career Center and other organizations to table in the school cafeteria.

After a few hours, only a handful of parents had taken the high schoolers up on their offer, but Kasler was undeterred.

“I definitely want to get it out to the public more, maybe a little earlier in time before it happens, get more people involved with it, so that we can get it to more people in town,” Kasler said.