COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – The county is looking for more emergency child care providers to fill a huge demand from frontline workers.
Luisa Artuso, director of children’s early years division, said they have had 180 families apply for emergency child care.
“That represents a total of 307 children that we’re looking to place,” Artuso said. “These are children of frontline healthcare workers, first responders and those that are basically on the frontlines of addressing our community needs when it comes to the COVID-19 virus.”
The county has opened two child care centres in their service delivery area, Willowdale in Guelph and Wellington Place in Fergus, where they can look after a total of 35 children. Artuso explained this is a reduction in the amount of children these centres could have previously watched.
This is a response to emergency child care guidelines set out by the province to limit potential spread.
Artuso said the county is looking for people to provide child care at the home of the applicant based on what applicants have said.
“They’re more comfortable with somebody going into their home than bringing their children out to somebody else’s home,” Artuso said.
There are a lot of measures in place to protect everyone involved from transmitting the virus. Artuso said they have gone beyond legislative requirements and work with public health to take every precaution possible.
“That includes a lot of extra caution in daily health screens, limiting the access of who can go into the home and how many children they can care for,” Artuso said. “We’ve come up with a whole new set of guidelines that they need to meet in order for us to ensure they are healthy before they enter child care.”
If children display any COVID-19 related symptoms, they cannot return to their child care arrangement until they are confirmed negative.
Under current arrangements, an at home child care provider can’t have more than five children in their home, including their own, and cannot care for more than two different families’ children.
Artuso said these measures will not be short-term.
“We’ve come to the realization that this virus is not going away anytime soon,” Artuso said. “Until a vaccine is developed and available to others then we basically have to continue these precautions.”
Child care will become increasingly important as the province works to open up the economy.
“Child care is a very important part of economic viability in communities,” Artuso said. “Without child care, most people cannot go to work. It will be very important to have children in environments that are taking this virus seriously and doing everything they can to prevent the spread.”
Artuso said the county originally was recruiting those who had been working in licensed child care as of March 1 but have opened it up to anybody over 18-years-old who is interested.
Those interested in providing child care can email [email protected]