From the office of County Executive Mark Poloncarz:
In light of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and the prolonged closure of area schools, many essential front-line workers are struggling to get to work because they lack sufficient child care arrangements. Human resource directors of the major hospitals, along with unions representing health care workers, have reported this challenge. Erie County has been coordinating with local school districts, which were tasked by Gov. Cuomo to develop child care plans for essential personnel in their respective districts. Additionally, the Child Care Resource Network (“CCRN”) has created a system to match essential front-line workers with child care programs that remain open and have vacancies for those children.
In order to facilitate this matching process, CCRN is asking all essential front-line workers who need child care complete a parent survey. Once CCRN receives a completed parent survey, its child care navigators will compile a list of child care providers with vacancies near their home or place of work and call the parents with the results.
CCRN is also asking that providers keep their vacancy numbers updated through the provider survey. Both the parent and provider survey are located on the CCRN website www.wnychildren.org. Parents or child care providers who are unable to access the online surveys may call CCRN at 716-877-6666, ext. 3064.
Maria Whyte, deputy county executive and co-chair of the county’s emergency child care task force, said, “Health care workers, first responders, municipal employees, grocery store clerks, and other essential personnel are the backbone of our community in this time of crisis. But, in order for them to do their critically important jobs, they need reliable child care. Erie County remains grateful for our strategic partnership with CCRN. They have developed a regional survey, which will function as a central clearinghouse for all child care needs, thereby ensuring child care is available to the essential workforce that is leading our community through this crisis.”
CCRN CEO Kimberly Suminski said, “Child Care Resource Network has been Erie County’s child care resource and referral organization for over 30 years. We are proud to be able to offer this service to the community’s essential front-line workers when we need them most.”
The state has recently expanded the definition of essential workers to include licensed health professionals, direct support professionals, first responders, food manufacturers, supermarket workers, commercial truck drivers and nonprofit service providers. The exact number of individuals and families classified as essential workers and in need of child care during this time remains unclear. As such, all essential workers in need of child care are strongly encouraged to complete CCRN’s parent survey at www.wnychildren.org/covid-19-update.
A more complete list can be found by visiting the State Education Department’s website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/coronavirus/nysed-covid-19-child-care-3-19-20.pdf.
CCRN and Erie County will continue to provide regular updates from the emergency child care task force.