Launch “leads the charge to brilliant outcomes for the children of our community by ensuring equitable access to the highest quality learning and care. Their twelve locations have deep, committed relationships with school districts, including Seattle Public Schools.” Their collaboration with the school district allows staff to communicate and partner with teachers, “ensuring what children learn in our before and after-school programs complement and support what they’re learning in the classroom, readying them for kindergarten.”
Launch remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with only a short closure of two weeks in March 2020. Since then they have shifted their work from before and after school support to full-day care, especially for essential workers and medical staff.
They have become a rigorous support system and economical support to families in the areas they serve, offering free child care to frontline workers. Their services also expanded to supporting foster youth with a safe space to learn and grow.
Launch continues to provide distance learning for Kindergarteners to 5th graders in Seattle Public Schools. They are mastering the skills of coordinating different school schedules with their program offerings. Launch’s programming focuses on education, social and emotional skills as well as providing movement opportunities for kids to just be kids.
“I was in awe of how fast we pivoted and the dedication to the community. That dedication really resulted in us providing programming free of charge,” said Isis Fernandez, expanded learning opportunities director with Launch.
As for staff, Fernandez has made it her mission to continue to support their professional development and healing-centered care. Fernandez took the time to check in on each site in person, quarantining for two weeks, and repeating the process throughout 2020. She thinks it’s incredibly important to normalize mental wellness in the professional field and supports opportunities to reflect together online.
Fernandez describes the Launch staff as, “Resilient, flexible and adaptive. They are all willing to be there for the kids.”
“A lot of things were going on, but at the forefront was safety and social-emotional support for staff and kids,” said April Miller, youth program quality coach with School’s Out Washington.