SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento city leaders announced a free childcare plan for those whose jobs are on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.
The free Essential Worker Childcare program will be offered to first responders, health care workers, and essential City of Sacramento employees starting Monday.
"Essential employees, first care responders, healthcare workers, etc., have to go to work. Schools are closed, what are we going to do for our kids?" said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a press conference Friday. "Our school districts are trying to answer that question but childcare has emerged as a huge issue because without childcare, our first responders, the other essential employees cannot go to work."
Approximately 350 childcare slots will be available for children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old.
Sacramento says it has plans to double the capacity to 700 in the weeks ahead.
Child care is considered an "essential" service, allowed to stay open during the pandemic.
However, many private-sector daycare businesses have closed due to a lack of demand and concerns about the virus.
"A lot of daycares are closing because they're not getting the children in," said Veronica Young, who runs a small in-home daycare center for up to eight children under a state license.
Young has been closed for two weeks and expects to be closed for another month or more, even though she's had no one from the government tell her to.
"I just decided that everything else was closing down. I was worried about myself, being an elderly person," Young said. "I didn't really know exactly what to do."
Sacramento's daycare program for first responders will be administered by the City's Youth, Parks and Community Enrichment Department and held at eight community centers spread across the city.
"Thank the people who really made this happen, the park staff -- 200 of them are working on this project," said Councilmember Angelique Ashby.
Children will be kept in groups no larger than 10 that will be separate from each other. There will be one caregiver for every 10 children.
The centers will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Participants are asked to bring their own meals for the first few weeks of the program.
If you would like to enroll your child, parents may register online through the City of Sacramento website by searching "Essential Worker Child Care." and selecting their preferred location.
Parents are required to show identification when dropping off their children on Monday. This ID must show they fall into one of the three select categories:
1. City of Sacramento first responders
2. Front-line health care workers who work in the City of Sacramento
3. Essential City of Sacramento employees
For any questions, visit the City of Sacramento website here.
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