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Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the categories and questions below to view answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a question that isn't answered below, please contact us.

Founded in 2012 by a group of parents on the West Side of Providence, West Side Play Space (WSPS) is a co-op where families and children can come together to play, learn and build community during the colder months of November-April. WSPS offers children ages 0-5 opportunities for movement, quiet reading, art, and imaginative play as well as special programming and events throughout the year.  (Please note children must be accompanied by a registered adult and may not be dropped off.)

As a cooperative organization, participating families all play a role in the operation of the space.  The co-op model ensures low cost, high-value programming. Our goal is to provide a venue where families can connect -- to foster ongoing friendships and a sense of community for you and your children.  All are welcome and families from anywhere in RI may sign-up to become members.

For $10/month and one volunteer shift per month (1.5 hours during the week or 2 hours on the weekend) you have full access to tumbling space, educational play toys, cozy reading nooks, art supplies and projects, special events, and member-only birthday party rentals.  

Located at the former Asa Messer Elementary School Annex (245 Althea St., Providence) in the heart of the West Side, WSPS offers both weekday and weekend open play hours. Check the calendar page for updates on special events.

Become a founding member today!

West Side Play Space is an all-volunteer run cooperative that is overseen by a Governing Board of member-volunteers. To operate as a cooperative, WSPS requires each family to cover one shift per month during open hours. Shift lengths are 1.5 hours on weekdays and 2 hours on weekends.  As a cooperative, there is also the expectation that members, as they are able, will jump in to fill last minute open shifts, volunteer during events and scheduled work days, and step forward to join a committee. 

WSPS was founded in 2012 by a group of parents on the West Side of Providence who recognized the need for a safe, dry and warm space for our neighborhood’s children to play and grow together in the inclement months from late fall to early spring.

WSPS is a program of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, a nonprofit community organization (WBNA.org).

No. WSPS membership is open to the general public, we welcome residents of the west side and beyond to join our cooperative and community of families.

Yes. West Side Play Space is available to member families for birthday party rentals during the space’s off-hours when possible. Member-renters must abide by all WSPS policies, parents/guardians must sign waivers of liability for all children attending, and the member-renter must assume responsibility for the cleanliness and order of the space at the party’s end.

Download the WSPS waiver of liability

For more information, contact membership@westsideplayspace.com.

If the City of Providence declares a snow emergency (i.e. no street parking allowed), WSPS will be closed. If Providence schools are closed but there is not a declared snow emergency, WSPS may be open. Weather closures will be posted on our Facebook page and WSPS Member Google Group.

Because we are entirely member-operated, the number of hours we are open is determined by the number of volunteer shifts that can be covered. As we grow our membership, we hope to be able to expand our open hours. This year, we are open two weekdays (Monday 9:00- 12:00 and Thursday 4:00-7:00pm) and both weekend days (Saturday 1:00-5:00pm and Sunday 9:00-1:00).

WSPS membership fees go entirely back into the organization’s operations. Membership fees and grants are used for purchasing supplies and equipment, insurance coverage, maintenance of facilities, special programming and events, and subsidized memberships.

There are three ways to play at West Side Play Space! You can become a member, use our drop-in option, or use our free Family Library Pass. (See below)  Please note that WSPS does not allow child drop-offs; children using the space must be supervised at all times by adult caregivers.

At West Side Play Space, all memberships are family memberships and cover all members of your immediate family. Membership costs $60 for 6 months, and allows unlimited use of WSPS during our entire season, November through April.  As a cooperative, each family is required to cover one volunteer shift per month so that we can maintain our full schedule of open hours (Monday: 9:00-12:00, Thursday: 3:00-6:00, Saturday: 1:00-5:00, Sunday 9:00-1:00).

There is also a $10 daily drop-in option. If you decide to join WSPS, the cost of your drop-in session can be credited toward a full membership.

WSPS has free Family Library Passes available for checkout from both the downtown and Olneyville branches of the Providence Public Library. These options are free, but visitors (as do all of our members) must sign a waiver of liability upon entry for themselves and their children in order to use the space.

WSPS is committed to making our space accessible to all; no family will be turned away for lack of funds.  WSPS has a limited number of subsidized memberships available and payment plans can be set-up for those who inquire.  Please note, however, that volunteer shift requirements cannot be waived. Please contact membership@westsideplayspace.com for more information.

There are light snacks (goldfish, crackers) and drinks (juice boxes, water) available for a nominal price (generally 75 cents per item).

Yes. To help us keep our space clean, families are asked to keep food and drinks in the designated eating areas, and to clean up and wipe down tables after eating.

We love our walkable west side neighborhood and have lots of space to park strollers in the hallway outside our playrooms.

Diapers can be changed in the restroom down the hall from WSPS. However, due to limited trash removal capacity, diapers CANNOT be thrown away in any trash receptacles at WSPS or in the bathroom. Diapers must be carried out and disposed of off-site. We can provide plastic diaper bags if needed.

Adults and children are asked to remove shoes and boots before entering the play rooms at West Side Play Space. This practice helps keep our floors, equipment and mats clean. Shoes, coats and other personal items can be stored in cubbies; Wipes are provided in each play room, at the front desk and in the eating area.  A "Taster's Choice" bin is available for toys that have been mouthed and will be cleaned on a regular basis as part of a cleaning shift.

West Side Play Space was designed for pre-schoolers. If your older child comes with you to WSPS, please ensure that he or she refrains from using equipment that is designed for younger children and that he or she is not being overly physical in an area where younger children are playing. Older children can be great helpers to preschoolers by assisting with blocks, puzzles, and other more advanced activities. WSPS reserves the right, however, to ask members to leave the space if the above guidelines are not followed. In the case of repeated problems, membership may be revoked.

Yes. The babysitter must be an adult caregiver, and must accompany and supervise your child/ren at all times. In addition, the caregiver must be able to provide the name of the primary contact in the system to ensure the family is registered. Please include the name(s) of your babysitter(s) on your enrollment form and in your online member account.  

Parents and caregivers are asked to use good judgment when bringing children to West Side Play Space.  Please do not bring a child to WSPS if he or she has had a fever in the past 24 hours or has a contagious illness.

In order to sign up for volunteer shifts, you need to be a West Side Play Space Member. If you are not yet a member, click here to learn more. If you are a member, signing up for a volunteer shift is simple:

  • go to: http://westsideplayspace.com
  • login to your member account by entering your username or email and password in the "Member Login" area in the left column
  • after you login, click on the "Sign up to volunteer" link under "Member Links" in the left column
  • the resulting page will show you a list of all available volunteer shifts
  • pick a shift that you (or someone in your member family) wants to cover and click the pink "SIGN UP" button
  • choose the name of the person that will cover the shift from the drop-down
  • click on the pink "SIGN UP" button again

NOTE: After logging in to your member account, you can also sign up for volunteer shifts directly through the calendar page.

Sometimes volunteers cannot be found for every shift available. Members will be notified of unfilled shifts a week in advance so that a member may volunteer to cover that shift. While all members are asked to cover a minimum of one shift per month, any member is welcome to cover additional shifts. If a shift is not filled, WSPS will be closed for that shift. WSPS will notify members of any closures on the Monday of each week through our Facebook page and WSPS Member Google Group.

If you need to cancel your scheduled shift due to a last minute emergency or conflict, we ask that you try to get your shift covered as soon as possible by posting a request on the WSPS Member Google Group to ask if anyone is available to pick up the shift. Please email membership@westsideplayspace.com for help and/or guidance with this process.

Please note that members who cancel a shift must remove their name from the shift on the website calendar. Likewise, members covering a last minute cancellation must sign-up for the shift on the website calendar; otherwise, they will not be credited for their volunteer hours.

  • go to: http://westsideplayspace.com
  • login to your member account by entering your username or email and password in the "Member Login" area in the left column
  • after you login, click on the "My volunteer shifts" link under "Member Links" in the left column
  • the resulting page will show you a list of all volunteer shifts that you have signed up for
  • click the "CANCEL" button next to the shift that you want to cancel

If cancelling within 24 hours of your shift, please email membership@westsideplayspace.com (cancellation this late should only be in an emergency, e.g. sick child).

If cancelling within 7 days of your shift, please try to get your shift covered as
soon as possible by posting a request on the WSPS Member Google Group to ask if anyone is available to pick up the
shift. Please email membership@westsideplayspace.com for help and/or guidance with this process.

It's easy.  You will be walked through the process during your orientation. There are also detailed instructions in the handbook kept in the registration desk (and available to all members as a PDF), and if you still have concerns, contact us about partnering you with an experienced parent.

No, you may sign up for your shifts one at a time. We ask that you sign up for your monthly shifts as soon as possible, however, so that we may have an early gauge of whether our schedule of open hours is being fulfilled.

Each family, based on the ages and temperaments of their child/ren, will have a different experience working the registration desk at WSPS. Many parents are able to keep an eye on their kids while working the desk. Others find that they need a different strategy. Some ideas to consider:

  • Keep your children near the registration desk (only appropriate for some families)
  • Volunteer when a friend, spouse or caregiver is available to watch the kids at WSPS
  • Volunteer with a friend at WSPS to help keep an eye on each other's children
  • Volunteer on a weekend day when you can come alone and leave the kids at home

Also, if you are a new volunteer and you feel you need more information before working a shift at the registration desk, please contact volunteer@westsideplayspace.com. Finally, if you are unable to find a way to work your monthly shifts at the registration desk, you can fulfill one of your volunteer commitments by volunteering for a laundry (taking dress up clothes home to wash) or cleaning shift (bathroom, vacuuming/sweeping, deep toy cleaning.)

If you have toys that you’d like to donate to WSPS, please contact info@westsideplayspace.com. Some toys that are especially useful are Cozy Coupes, ride-on vehicles for older children, tricycles, dress-up clothes, blocks (wooden and Lego Duplo), Thomas/Brio type wooden trains, train tables, gently used books, play kitchen accessories (play pots and play food), and other creative toys with not-too-small-parts that you think would be fun for a play space. WSPS could also use pre-school size play tables with chairs. All equipment should be in good, safe condition.

WSPS will put toys that cannot be used for the space (too many small parts, or duplicates of toys already in use, for example) in the "yard sale" table, and sold to parents visiting WSPS. These funds are directed back into WSPS operations.

As a program of the WBNA, a non-profit organization, WSPS gladly accepts donations of money, toys and volunteer assistance. WSPS is always looking for new funding opportunities through grants and other means, and appreciates learning about these from our members and partners. For more information about helping, please contact info@westsideplayspace.com.