Merced County Times Newspaper
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Essential Workers May Be Eligible For Help Paying For Child Care


(Merced County Office of Education)

 Families who are considered part of the essential workforce and are currently working during the stay-at-home order may be eligible to get help paying for child care. This includes essential service workers who work in the health care sector, such as public health and emergency services, service workers in food and agriculture sectors, teachers and educational staff, producers of early learning and care services, including kitchen and other support staff, state and local government workers, information technology, energy production, transportation and logistics, chemical production and hazardous materials, along with financial services.

Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen said child care keeps our families working and helps our economy. “It is crucial that we provide child care and other services for the essential workers who are on the front lines every day,” he said. “MCOE continues to work with child care providers to help provide safe child care environments and is able to help offset costs for more essential workers.”

Christie Hendricks, assistant superintendent of the Early Education Department at the Merced County Office of Education, says her agency specializes in helping families pay for child care and providing child care referrals to families for their specific child care needs.

“We have been very busy in the last month, setting up the staff to work remotely and enrolling essential workers on this child care program. It has been a little crazy and we very happy to be able to help essential workers,” she said. “There are 300 child care slots or openings for families of essential workers; they have already had 150 applications from families seeking the service.”

Rosa Barragan, program manager with the MCOE Early Education Department, said these are additional child care slots due to the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages families to apply. Her office is working to get the word out to businesses and the 20 local school districts serving Merced County.

“These are new funds, for families meeting the eligibility criteria, to help pay for child care. MCOE Child Care Resource and Referral is updating child care supply at least twice a week. We also provide child care referrals to licensed child care providers; we are calling it an enhanced referral,” Hendricks said.

Barragan said there are 169 family child care providers and 11 centers open, ready to serve the children of essential workers. MCOE works with the California Department of Social Services, which handles community care licensing, and are all working closely with child care providers to ensure they are following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and best practices put in place by CDSS to ensure the child care environments are safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

For more information, call MCOE at (209) 381-4585 or email [email protected]

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