LOCAL PARTNERS SCALE UP CRITICAL CHILD CARE SERVICES
TO INCLUDE ESSENTIAL WORKERS
The expansion means child care
offered at schools throughout Lane County
Eugene, Ore., April 1, 2020
- Critical child care partners throughout Lane County, including the City of Eugene, local area school districts and the Eugene Family YMCA, are collaborating to scale up full-day child care services to now include essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Programs at schools throughout Lane County offer child care for infants through 12-year-olds for first responders, medical professionals--- and now, essential workers.
"It is vital that employees who are expected to work have a safe place for their young children to play, learn, move their bodies and connect with trained adults when their world feels less secure," said Brian Steffen, CEO, Eugene Family YMCA. "We are grateful for the collaboration with so many local entities. No one organization could provide a service this expansive--- a collective effort among long-time child care providers successfully fulfilled this vision."
Partners include the City of Eugene; the school districts of Eugene 4J, Bethel, Fern Ridge, South Lane and Springfield; and the Eugene Family YMCA.
"As educators we realize our role is shifting in this changing landscape," said Jeremy Smith, Curriculum Director for the South Lane School District. "While it is a challenge, we feel fortunate that we can provide this service to those working on the front lines and we appreciate the partnerships that are growing stronger between the schools and community organizations."
Springfield Public Schools is also part of the partnership but, at this time, provides child care for first responders and health care professionals only.
"We thank all of the child care workers for keeping the children of emergency and essential workers safe and cared for during this crisis," said Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Chris Heppel. "This work was especially helpful in the early stages, allowing us to provide essential services to the community."
Programs strictly adhere to all mandated safeguards from the state, including recommended child care ratios. Child care staff ensure appropriate social distancing, regular hand washing and general sanitization. All youth require a temperature check prior to entering the program.
"We are really grateful that the Y is offering emergency child care," said Y member Colleen Vehafric, whose son is attending the Y's preschool program. "All of the social distancing, handwashing and safety procedures in place make us feel good about having our son there."
Vehafric is a mental health worker and a graduate student in social work. Her husband works as a paramedic. She says that child care is critical for her family right now.
"Child care options are absolutely necessary," she said. "If the community expects essential workers, such as grocery store clerks and people in the service industry to work, they need to be able to have child care--- especially at a cost that is affordable or no cost at all. A lot of folks are having their hours cut and struggling to maintain housing and their own sources of security."
Emergency and essential workers can now register for child care.