Child care workers worry about COVID-19 exposure

Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 19:20:17-04

Some child care workers are expressing concerns about potential COVID-19 exposure.

“All of us have the same concerns but we’re not allowed to feel anything because we have to do our job,” child care worker, Teresa Maldonado said.

The 39-year-old mom from Buffalo is a child care worker at a center on Buffalo’s east side. She said it’s nearly impossible to practice social distancing while caring for eight or nine children at a time. She also said she isn’t being given the proper tools to protect herself. “They’re not providing us any masks. The gloves that we have on hand are the gloves we use for diaper changes or food prep. Those are the gloves we’re using right now.”

Kaley Donaldson with the Western New York Child Care Resource Network said she’s hearing those concerns from some other day care workers and providers across Erie County. She estimates less than 75 out of more than 500 day cares in the county have chosen to temporarily close either out of fear of catching the virus, or because they didn’t have enough children to support the business.

Currently, while the CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public, there’s no state law that requires day cares to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its employees. That’s one reason why Donaldson strongly urges parents to keep children home if you can. “Keeping your child at home helps increase social distancing and opens a spot for essential workers who are in need of child care.”

A spokeswoman for the N.Y.S. Office of Children and Family Services said anyone with a concern should call 800-732-5207. However, she didn’t say whether the state is re-examining COVID-19 protocol in day care centers.

Child care workers like Teresa Maldonado said something needs to change. She is making the same wage, but feels like she is working in unsafe conditions.

“Those are our biggest fears is coming in contact with the virus, and than we take it home to our families.”