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YWCA offers child care help for emergency, essential workers

Essential workers struggle to do their job while schools are closed.
Posted: 12:09 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 18:21:53-04
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — YWCA Western New York is partnering with the Lackawanna City School District to offer emergency child care for essential workers. Martin Road Elementary School is the site chosen for the child care which will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday through Friday for children ages 4 through 12.

It is a free program only open to emergency, essential personnel; such as medical providers and first responders.

Call (716) 852-6120 or email https://ywca-wny.org/ for more information.

In addition, the YWCA is offering child care for essential workers at its Grant Street campus in Buffalo. It is available from 7 a.m to 6 p.m, Monday through Friday for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.

Those interested can call 725-8456 or email: smccoulf@ymca-wny.org.

It is the latest effort by the child care community to help the many essential workers who must perform their jobs during the pandemic which has closed all schools.

The YWCA emphasized that it is following all CDC and Department of Health guidelines for screening children as they arrive and while they are being cared for.

The Child Care Research Network is partnering with Erie County to help match essential front-line workers with child care. Parents who need child care (essential workers) are asked to fill out a survey online at www.wnychildren.org.

Those who cannot access the online survey can call CCRN at (716) 877-6666 ext. 3064.

Navigators will compile a list of child care providers with vacancies near their home or work place.

Erie County said the state has recently expanded the definition of essential workers to include licensed health professionals, direct support professionals, first responders, food manufacturers, supermarket workers, commercial truck drivers, nonprofit service providers, and others.

A more complete list can be found by visiting the State Education Department’s website at:

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/coronavirus/nysed-covid-19-child-care-3-19-20.pdf [p12.nysed.gov]

Maria Whyte, Deputy County Executive and Co-Chair of the County’s Emergency Childcare Task Force, issued the following statement: “Health care workers, first responders, municipal employees, grocery store clerks, and other essential personnel are the backbone of our community in this time of crisis. But, in order for them to do their critically important jobs, they need reliable childcare. Erie County remains grateful for our strategic partnership with CCRN. They have developed a regional survey, which will function as a central clearinghouse for all childcare needs, thereby ensuring childcare is available to the essential workforce that is leading our community through this crisis.”

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CONTROVERSY

Some child care centers are concerned with comments Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz made during a press conference. Poloncarz was unhappy to hear that parents are being charged 50% to hold a place in child care centers - even though the children are being kept home during the pandemic.

Poloncarz felt it was a case of "double-dipping" as the centers are getting money for providing services to essential workers while still collecting from contracted parents.

"We are told that we have to keep our doors open; that we are essential services. But we feel like we are being thrown under the bus," said Sherry Phillips, president of three child care centers called "A Leap in Learning"

"There needs to be viable child care centers to bring your children back to," added Phillips.

The child care operator said 92 local centers felt the same way because, even with providing care for essential service employees, the child care centers were only operating at 20% capacity. The result is several centers had to reduce staff and find other ways to cut costs.

Phillips said the centers need to receive some money from parents during the crisis to remain open afterwards, otherwise, some might have to close for good.