GUELPH – There’s a “significant need” for licensed child care workers in Wellington County to care for the children of frontline emergency workers, says the director of the county’s Children’s Early Years program.
The County of Wellington put out the call a week ago, and stepped up that call again on April 27.
Luisa Artuso said there are 180 families eligible for emergency child care and that amounts to about 307 children.
The province has allowed child care centres to open if they are caring for children of emergency workers. That includes doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and those working in long-term care.
But with only two centres in the county open – Wellington Place in Aboyne and Willowdale in Guelph – and with physical distancing measures part of the new protocol, the centres can’t accommodate all the children who need care.
“That’s why we opened it up,” Artuso said. “We’re appealing to the licensed child care providers we already know to do this work.”
Artuso said the preferable arrangement is for the child care providers to care for children in the children’s own homes. Especially for shift-workers who may have to work through the night, it’s easiest on children to be in their own beds in their own home.
But child care workers can take children into their own homes as well, with significant changes to guidelines due to COVID-19:
– reduced number of children – maximum five, including the children of the child care worker;
– reduced number of families – maximum two families;
– children are screened at beginning of the day; any child with a fever, runny nose, cough, who is lethargic or has diarrhea is asked to stay home;
– symptomatic children are to be tested for COVID-19; and
– there are strict cleaning guideline and procedures for parents when they pick up their children.
Parents choose the child care worker they feel comfortable with, Artuso said, and the contract is between the worker and the parents.
“We don’t match people,” Artuso said, adding child care workers who work in home settings are independent contractors.
“But we support child care workers and families with resources, we make unannounced visits, and make sure the worker has filled the licensing requirements.”
To fast-track the process, the county is looking for individuals who were working in licensed child care as of March 1. Child care providers interested in this opportunity can email expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.