Local nonprofit offers free childcare to single moms working nights, weekends

"Right now, our moms pay nothing. So it's free child care services, which is huge," said co-founder April Matt.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- In Sara Sanders' living room hangs a photo of her with her three sons.

They're all making silly faces at the camera in the photo, which pretty much sums up her life.

"They're always running around," Sanders said of her three boys.

But Sanders seems to have it all together.

"It has to be a routine for them," she said of the schedule that keeps everyone on task.

But, not too long ago, Sanders' schedule was her biggest struggle.

"I had gotten fired from my job for lateness because I could not be a reliable employee. I didn't have reliable child care," said Sanders, who adds that she was also getting evicted from her home at the time roughly six years ago.

She found herself doing jobs like waitressing, with night and weekend shifts that made it nearly impossible to keep a job while raising her children alone.

"I felt like I was drowning every single day," she said.

That's when a friend referred her to a program called Along the Way.

The nonprofit organization provides in-home child care in Montgomery County to single moms who work nights and weekends.

It was co-founded when two members of a local church started to think of ways they could take their ministry outside of the church walls by providing a solution to a community need.

"This makes the difference between people staying in poverty or getting out of poverty," said Kristina Valdez, executive director of Along the Way.

April Matt, co-founder and associate director of Along the Way, said, "Right now, our moms pay nothing. So it's free child care services, which is huge."

Professional background-checked caregivers come to family's homes.

"A lot of them have backgrounds in either education or psychology," said Valdez. "Lots of them have worked at day care centers... Some of them are even moms as well."

Having someone come to her home made all the difference for Sanders.

"There's no other agency in the whole United States that we know of that does this service," said Valdez. "No one does it because there's no state or federal funding for it."

That's something Along the Way is trying to change by working with local leaders. They're also seeking partnerships with businesses-- many of which lost women workers during the pandemic.

The goal is to have those businesses cover the cost for employees.

The employer-subsidized child care could be helped by COVID recovery funds for which the nonprofit is applying.

"In the meantime, we are fully funded by just the generous hearts of people within our community," said Matt.

That generous support helped Sanders build a resume that allowed her to work her way up to a job with traditional hours.

She no longer needs the services of Along the Way but credits them with her success.

"We have a good life. And I've never really been able to say that," said Sanders.

In addition to looking for companies to partner with, Along the Way is also hiring caregivers.

Those wishing to give or stay informed about the organization can also text "give" or "newsletter" to 570-365-5307.

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