The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) approved the creation of a second cooperative play program (Co-Op) at the in Georgetown for the September 2012 school year.
DPR operates nine Co-Op programs throughout the city for children ages 18 months to five years.
Volta Park already had a co-op program for children aged two to five years, but Georgetown parents saw a need for programs for younger children.
Caroline Pessey's older daughter started in the Volta Park program in September 2011. Her younger daughter will be 20 months in September and Pessey was looking for a similar option locally.
"The recreation center at Volta Park was unused during the morning," she explained. "That’s where we got the idea that we could ask them to open a new Co-Op."
Pessey sent notices out to neighborhood and mom's listservs, trying to determine what the demand was.
"[We were] pretty sure we would get demand," said Pessey.
But when the parents initially approached DPR about the space and the demand, they got a "no" in response.
Vanessa Gerideau, the DPR co-op program manager, told Patch that part of the problem was that there was no money in the budget to fund the second teacher needed for an additional program at Volta. Though parents pay a fee each month, it only partially funds the teacher salary and without an allocation in budget, a teacher could not be supported.
After being rebuffed initially, Pessey came into contact with fellow Georgetown parent, Ken Archer, who suggested they get the Advisory Neighborhood Commission involved.
"I think the ANC’s role was really crucuial in making them understand that the community really wants this," said Pessey.
Gerideau said that DPR staff then met with the DPR director "who agreed to move money from other areas in order to accommodate" another Volta Park co-op.
"We're all on a tight budget," said John Stokes, chief of staff and spokesman for the D.C. Department of Parks of Recreation.
Neither Gerideau nor Stokes, knew where the money was taken from in the DPR budget to pay for Volta.
The new co-op will have between 10 and 15 slots for children aged 18 to 29 months, though the details are still being worked out. Under the current system parents pay $200 a month for part-time care and have to volunteer one day a week.
"I really hope the options will meet demand," said Pessey.
Gerideau was optimistic based on her experience with wait lists last year.
"Demand is high, but we were basically able to accommodate everyone who was interested" she said.
Enrollment is open to all D.C. residents on June 4 at noon. The only preference is given to families with children already in the program.
"Space fills on a first-come, first-serve basis and enrollment is subject to availability. It is recommended that parents create an online DPR account for all members of their family in our registration system prior to the registration period in order to be best prepared."
"We cannot express enough our thanks to DPR for working with us on this and to Ron Lewis, Ken Archer and the ANC for their support" said Pessey.