The Loudoun School Board has unanimously rejected a request by the Loudoun County YMCA to provide before- and after-school child care in county schools, but approved expanding an existing program operated by the county's Department of Parks and Recreation.

After hearing presentations by YMCA officials and Cindy Welsh, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, the board voted 7 to 0 to deny the YMCA's request for a pilot child-care program in one school.

It voted 8 to 0 to approve the Parks and Recreation request to increase staffing for its program, but the expansion is contingent on funding from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Plans call for the program to expand from 14 elementary schools to all 23 elementary schools starting next fall.

Welsh said she does not yet know how much the expanded program would cost, but she will present a figure to the supervisors by the end of the year. She said fees would cover all the program costs, adding that new positions probably would not be required but hours would be added to existing positions.

"We're disappointed . . . . I guess that's about all we can say," said YMCA Executive Director Nancy Devine. "The need for before {school} care isn't being met" by the schools, she added.

School Board member Frederick F. Fleming (Leesburg), a longtime YMCA board member, abstained from voting on the YMCA program. School Board members said they feared the YMCA might compete with the Department of Parks and Recreation.

School staff members also said that if the board granted the YMCA's request, it could not reasonably turn down a similar request by another nonprofit agency.

"We have a partnership with Parks and Recreation," said board member Edward J. Kiley (Mercer).

Although he voted against the YMCA's request, board Chairman C. Carroll Laycock Jr. (Blue Ridge) said he was concerned that the board was denying a source of child care in Loudoun County, where more than 50 percent of mothers work outside the home. Laycock said he voted against the request because the board has a policy that the Parks and Recreation Department should provide child care.

"I accept that for what it is," he said, but added that it may be time to reconsider the policy. "Certainly the YMCA is a quality organization. I personally do not have any problems with an organization like them providing child care in our schools . . . . Why should you shut the door on these people?"

Devine said that while she was hopeful the issue might come up again, the YMCA will begin looking for other sites at which to provide child care.

She said the schools had been the agency's first choice because "the optimal place for families, in terms of convenience, in terms of familiarity, is to provide {child care} in the schools." The YMCA had proposed using the same School Age program that is operated nationally by the agency, which is the largest provider of child care in the country. Parents would be charged a fee to cover expenses, but scholarships would be available for those unable to pay.

Under the YMCA proposal, children would begin to arrive at 7 a.m. and engage in "quiet games, free play and reading, either in small groups or individually." After school, until 6 p.m., children would have snacks, outdoor and indoor games, crafts, study time and other activities, the proposal said. In addition, the YMCA would provide full day care on holidays or teacher workdays with the principal's permission.

Under the Parks and Recreation program, parents pay $90 a month for each child. Students participate from the close of school until 6 p.m. If the program is expanded, Parks and Recreation said it would add before-school care.