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"Essential" Workers Seek Emergency Day Care Amid Coronavirus Pandemic


Many daycare centers in Oregon had to close late last month following an executive order from Governor Kate Brown, but here are some workers who still need a place to take their kids.

Brown’s order calls on day care providers to prioritize services to the families of "essential" workers, including peopler who work for hospitals, grocery stores, and banks.

It’s still been challenging for these families to find care.

“Someone from the hospital called and said, ‘Hey we have 16 nurses who need to get to work, but they need child care,’” says Brad Russell of the Rogue Valley YMCA.

That was in March. Since then, the Rogue Valley YMCA has begun offering emergency child care specifically for essential workers.

At first about 30 children enrolled in the service. Now the YMCA is caring for 60 children in the Rogue Valley. And they need to be split into small groups of nine children per staff member, to comply with health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We usually have one staff to 15 children,” Russel says. “And [usually] we’re not having to have an additional staff member that are doing temperature checks, or symptom checks. So there’s a number of these mitigation measures that make emergency child care so much more expensive.”

There are also additional health precautions staff need to take — like ensuring that one child’s personal belongings aren’t touching another’s, and that children are playing on outside equipment one-at-a-time. They’re also spending more time outdoors than indoors.

Russell says overall, the children under their care seem to be doing well with the uncertainty of the crisis, and he credits parents for speaking to them honestly about the coronavirus pandemic.


April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.