California parents and guardians working in essential sectors during the coronavirus pandemic now have an option for safe, reliable and accessible child care, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
In his live briefing, the governor said the state has launched a new portal to help essential workers and vulnerable families via covid19.ca/childcare.
“Our essential workers deserve to go to work knowing their kids are safe and cared for,” said Newsom in a prepared statement. “They’re there for our families, keeping hospitals, grocery stores and schools open during this pandemic. We need to be there for them. Our new portal will make accessing child care easier by allowing parents to find options that are convenient and reliable for their families.”
Through a search on the portal, users will receive information for nearby licensed child care providers, including capacity and hours of operation, ages of children served and safety details.
As of Thursday, the system listed 159 providers across the Santa Clarita Valley with some labeled with “spots available,” “booked” or “availability unknown.”
Among the listed is Montessori of Valencia, which has three other SCV locations that are currently closed. Currently, the provider has 20 spots open, said Regional Director Erin Johnson, who added that operations have run smoothly.
“We reopened on (April 20), and are operating with safety guidelines by not letting parents come in, and we escort kids outside, and kids are washing their hands. Our previous capacity here was 168 kids, and now have 10 children each in our nine classrooms,” she said.
With their names on the list in the portal, Johnson said she hopes parents will have an easier way of locating the services they need.
“I think it’s good because a lot of people don’t know where to go or what to do, so it’s nice that there’s an actual portal,” she said.
The move comes as schools across the state remain closed, making it harder on essential workers to find safe options for child care, which could only heighten as more businesses will begin to reopen under Newsom’s four-stage plan to ease stay-at-home orders.
California has also allocated $50 million for child care vouchers that prioritize children at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, as well as an additional $50 million to sanitize child care facilities and provide reimbursement for child care providers to purchase gloves, face coverings and cleaning supplies.