With schools officially closed until fall, The City has extended emergency childcare services for healthcare professionals, first responders and other essential city employees until at least June 2.
“Parenting during a pandemic is stressful enough as it is, and parents who are working on the frontlines shouldn’t have to worry about finding or paying for safe, quality care for their children while they’re at work,” Mayor London Breed said in a press release. “Our City departments have come together to operate these emergency care centers and support the brave workers who are taking care of others. With this extension, we are assuring essential employees that their children will have a safe place to go while schools remain closed.”
The service, which began March 16, when city-wide shelter-in-place orders were implemented, is available for children from kindergarten through eighth grade from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 28 locations across The City.
The emergency care centers are operated by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF). While recreation professionals conduct indoor and outdoor activities, including sports, art and instructional projects, DCYF provides three meals a day to all participants.
Youth service staff is coordinating with teachers and school officials to meet schools’ distance learning initiatives.
“That’s pretty much become the crux of my job,” said an emergency childcare service provider who asked to remain anonymous. “We have six different schools we’re coordinating with every day.”
“Right now only a few of our kids have actual virtual classes, but I’m expecting the majority to have actual virtual classes where they’re logging in through video starting next week, since that’s the SFUSD recommended day for virtual classes to start,” the worker said.
To limit the spread of infection in these childcare settings, to the extent possible, facilities are dividing children into groups of 12 or fewer. Groups aren’t interacting with one another, and staff are not circulating between groups. Use of common areas is being staggered as much as possible.
“No hospital, healthcare or essential worker should have to choose between working or providing emergency care for their children and youth. This is a critical need our City has responded to and has been providing for our COVID-19 first responders to lessen their stress and worry,” said Maria Su, DCYF Executive Director. “We can assure parents they can go to their jobs knowing that their children and youth are safe, well cared for, fed and are being supported in their distance learning. DCYF is proud to work rapidly with our City partners across public and private sectors to ensure that we support as many children and youth as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.”