Gov. Gavin Newsom is releasing $100 million to support child care services for California’s essential workers and at-risk children as the coronavirus pandemic leaves schools closed through the end of the academic year, his office announced Friday.
Half the funding will be used to pay for up to 20,000 child care slots.
The other half will go towards making sure the child care centers are safe and clean for the children amid the pandemic, reimbursing the facilities for the purchase of gloves, masks, cleaning supplies and other items required by the state’s safety guidelines.
“Many of California’s workers on the front lines of this pandemic are parents, and as a father, I know the importance of making sure our children are kept healthy and safe,” Newsom said in a statement. “This funding is very important to make sure that working parents that are part of the essential workforce in our state, as well as those that are part of vulnerable populations, have the child care resources they need.”
Last week, the governor signed an executive order to provide expanded child care access for children of essential workers, waiving eligibility and enrollment requirements and allowing state-subsidized child care centers and after-school programs to prioritize the children of health care professionals, first responders, law enforcement, grocery workers and others.
The governor told the state’s education and social services departments to come up with a plan for how to safely care for the children amid the pandemic.
The agencies have since issued a guidance for child care centers.
“The CDE is encouraging all programs that can safely remain open or reopen to do so in order to serve essential worker families during this State of Emergency,” the state’s Department of Education officials said.
The centers were told they can care for children of essential employees, children who are abused and neglected or are children of domestic violence survivors, experiencing homelessness or are part of the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children.
Family child care homes and early learning centers were told they can’t have more than 10 children in a group.
The Los Angeles Unified School District had previously planned to set up dozens of centers to care for the students while schools are closed, but later backed away from the plan, saying they centers wouldn’t be safe enough for the staff and students as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the county.