B.C. to match essential workers to childcare spots amid COVID-19

It’s a matchmaking service built for a crisis.

The B.C. government is launching a new process to pair up essential service workers looking for childcare with available spots in their community.

The service will be available for front-line COVID-19 workers, such as health-care workers and first responders, with children up to five years old.

“Families who want to access childcare services must also continue to ensure their children are practicing physical distancing with anyone outside of their immediate family circle,” a release from the B.C. government reads.

Essential workers can fill out an online form to request a space, and the information will be forwarded to one of 38 referral centres in the province.

Spaces will be prioritized for children whose parents work in public health and health services, social services, law enforcement, first responders and emergency response sectors.

“The number of spaces available for essential service workers will be up to each childcare operator, based on its licensed capacity and following any additional health requirements established by the provincial health officer,” the release from government reads.

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“Hours of operation for spaces will vary by facility. While many centres are open Monday to Friday, others may offer care on the weekends and outside the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Government is monitoring whether the needs of essential service workers for care outside of regular hours are being met.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided assurances that childcare facilities would remain open to accommodate essential workers needing to go do their jobs.

The City of Vancouver has also launched a referral system to link essential workers with licensed childcare providers.

Childcare operators were concerned the province was not doing enough to support them during the COVID-19 crisis. The government has since increased funding for those spaces that can stay open safely.

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