Detroit Parent Collective finds new ways to continue mission amid pandemic and protests

Detroit Parent Collective was preparing to expand its coworking with on-site child care model to Midtown when the pandemic brought those plans to a grinding halt.


That meant figuring out a new way how to serve families when they couldn’t open the doors. Founder Krista McClure, who describes herself as a problem solver, quickly went into “reaction mode,” she says, by exploring and forging new partnerships to fill service gaps, including working with Ferndale-based Nature’s Playhouse to provide virtual mental health support for free. DPC, which is located on McNichols in Bagley, also teamed up with Journey to Healing, a Detroit-based trauma resilient center that provides social emotional support primarily for communities of color in Metro Detroit, on an art therapy program, also offered for free.


“My hope is to have these services go to the end of the year, which we'll probably be able to do” as she continues “digging and hustling” for money to keep it going, McClure says. She adds the need is greater now more than ever as the city battles and recovers from COVID-19 as well as sees continued protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black men and women who have died as a result of police brutality. “There's too much too much trauma … we need we need as much help as we can get right now on that on the mental [health] piece. That’s critical.”


As part of its social impact model, the inclusive family-oriented space has always emphasized its work to overcome societal divides. DPC families understand what it means to be intentional about removing those societal barriers, McClure says, because they have regular conversation-oriented potlucks on topics related to overcoming barriers based on socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity. They would talk about these issues at these “courageous conversations,” but now they are “living and breathing it.”

Detroit Parent Collective is opening a second location on Wayne State University's campus.


“Personally as a business. I'm exhausted, because I'm not only having to shift to meet the needs of COVID-19 and I'm exhausted because I feel that the world is defeating the work of the mission my business is designed to do, which is to remove the societal divide.”


She’s not letting those challenges stop her; on June 5, DPC hosted a Children Stand Against Racial Inequality March that brought children and their families from across Metro Detroit came together. There’s another one planned for this Friday.


DPC has also launched a nature-based learning kit by partnering with Palumba in Plymouth. With the support of a grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the nature kits are free for families, and about 40% of the families served through this program earn less than $24,000 a year, McClure says.


While she says she has been fortunate enough to not suffer some of the same blows other small businesses have suffered as a result of the pandemic, she hasn’t been immune with fixed costs such as insurance and taxes to pay on the building she owns on McNichols.


As for reopening the McNichols space as well as the grand opening for the Wayne State University location, McClure says she is being methodical and taking her time to ensure safety for families. Since the business is zoned as an office, DPC is technically allowed to reopen under the state’s reopening plan, but McClure says she’s looking at a July date to open. There are some major changes that will be implemented when the doors open, such as a smaller adult to children ratio, extensive cleaning protocols, staggered schedules, PPE requirements, and more.


While she has adapted by figuring out creative solutions to navigate this uncertain time, there are two main concerns weighing on her right now.


“Can we really, truly continue to operate as coworking with on-site child care? That's item one,” she says, followed by “our numbers. I don't think that when we look at the unemployment rate, and we look at how small businesses and the economy is impacted right now, there are going to be a lot of folks who are not going to be able to return to the status quo.”





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Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.