Arizona will launch a new program on Monday to help provide child care for health care workers, first responders and other essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The parents would still need to pay for their children to attend one of the Arizona Enrichment Centers, although scholarships are available.
The state is partnering with existing daycare businesses, as well as nonprofits, faith-based groups and schools to care for preschool and school-aged children as schools are closed through the end of the school year.
The program could help keep some private child-care centers stay afloat as more families working remotely are keeping children home. The centers will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The state already had partnered with Boys & Girls Club branches across the state and the Valley of the Sun YMCA to provide emergency child care.
“Through support including child care assistance and financial resources, we can help alleviate some of the stress and concerns that families serving on the frontlines are facing,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement on Friday.
Financial help available
Child-care costs will vary by program but financial assistance is available.
Scholarships for families are on a first-come, first-serve basis and eligibility will be determined when parents register for the program. If parents qualify for financial assistance, the state will provide a confirmation letter that must be given to the child-care provider.
Employers may also be offering financial assistance for child-care and employees are urged to contact their human resources department for more information.
Many child-care centers also are offering discounts to health care workers and first responders.
The Arizona Enrichment Centers are open to children whose parents are critical frontline employees working in a field defined by the governor as an essential function, who can’t telecommute and who don’t have access to child care.
Those positions include:
- Health care workers.
- Law enforcement officials and firefighters.
- Emergency management personnel.
- Housing and shelter employees.
- Public sector workers, including child safety and adult protective services personnel.
- Military or other government employees working to support the operation of essential businesses, like grocery stores and pharmacies.
A full list of qualified positions can be found online.
Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to register
Parents can register on the Arizona Enrichment Centers website.
A list of child-care facilities can be found online or by calling Arizona Child Care Resource & Referral at 1-800-308-9000 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Parents with children 12 and younger can get child care through a licensed provider. Unlicensed providers offer care for all children, including those 13 and older.
Nonprofits and faith-based groups will provide child care in areas where there are no licensed centers.
Centers takes safety precautions
The child-care centers will follow state health guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including limiting the number of children in each room to meet social distancing guidelines.
Children and staff will have their temperatures taken when entering the center and anyone with a fever will be sent home.
Staff will frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces and practice good hand hygiene.
How you can help
The state will evaluate the need to add more centers to the program as demand for child care and enrollment increases.
Child-care organizations interested in participating in the program can submit an application online.
People interested in volunteering at an Arizona Enrichment Center can sign up online. Centers are also seeking donations, including baby wipes, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, water and snacks, and toilet paper.
Reach reporter Paulina Pineda at email@example.com or 480-389-9637. Follow her on Twitter: @paulinapineda22.
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