Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and the Monroe County Emergency Childcare Taskforce. It contains information about immediate opportunities for paid child care employment for essential workers and their families during this COVID-19 pandemic. Bloom is publishing it in its entirety—edited lightly for style and grammar—as a public service.

Over 230 children of essential workers are in urgent need of child care in Monroe County. These families include parents or guardians working as health care providers, first responders, or pharmacists. They are making essential medical products, providing sanitation services, or stocking shelves at grocery stores. In each instance, these indispensable workers need the community’s support to ensure their children are well- cared for while they serve the essential needs of Monroe County residents. 

“It is critical that we rally around the families of essential workers,” said City of Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton. “We have childcare providers and others that are willing to reopen existing sites or create emergency childcare locations. However, we need staffing to make this possible. If you are a healthy adult with the capacity and skill set to help, we hope you will step forward and generously provide your talents to care for children in our community during this unprecedented crisis.” 

In an effort to assist essential working families and employers, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County’s Monroe Smart Start program has developed a tool for healthy child care workers, educators, teachers, college students, or others with child care experience to sign up for paid employment opportunities. Those interested in employment can indicate their interest to provide childcare at monroesmartstart.org/providers/emergency-childcare.

The names of interested individuals will be provided to local child care providers or employers assisting their staff to find care for their children. Child care opportunities can be either part- or full-time. Those signing up to help can specify ages of children with whom they are interested in working (6 weeks to age 5, or ages 6–12), and if they would prefer to work in homes or child care centers. Once information is exchanged, families and/or child care programs/organizations will work with the potential child care employee to agree upon hourly wage, work hours, and terms of employment. 

“As a community that excels in providing care to children of all ages, we now find ourselves in uncharted territory,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “With all public schools closed and most early learning sites shuttered as well, we have a crisis in child care for essential workers. Given the wealth of local individuals with experience working with children ages 6 weeks to 12, we are committed to helping find the people that will allow existing providers to reopen or for innovative solutions to be activated in our community.” 

A task force was recently convened to address the emerging child care needs of essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The task force is collecting information to help understand the need for child care, the barriers to providing essential care, and strategies that might be deployed if adequate resources can be secured. The task force is also exploring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–aligned models for care, alternate locations for serving children, and resources necessary to provide care in an environment defined by the implications of COVID-19. 

“Staffing is the key determinant for successfully providing the child care so urgently needed by local families,” added Peterson. “We know our community has many compassionate child care workers, and this call out for care is a starting point towards connecting them with families who are stepping up each day to ensure that this community has essential services. This is our chance to stand alongside our local heroes in fighting against COVID-19 in Monroe County.” 

For information, visit monroesmartstart.org/providers/emergency-childcare