California launches website to help families find child care centers across the state

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California has set up an online portal that helps families find child care centers in neighborhoods throughout the state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new state website during a news conference Thursday.

Families can visit and enter their address or ZIP code in the search box to find a listing of all child care centers and homes open nearby. The website lets guardians filter search results by the number and age of children they need to find care for.

All the centers are researched and vetted by the state, according to the governor.

“We know that child care keeps California working. It also provides that critical enrichment and activities for supporting the healthy development of children,” director of the California Department of Social Services, Kim Johnson, said in the news conference.

The portal comes as the state has moved millions into helping children of essential workers and at-risk children find care amid the pandemic that has shuttered schools and closed down or affected 63% of licensed child care facilities in the state.

Newsom announced earlier this month that he’s allocating $100 million towards the effort, with $50 million going towards vouchers for 20,000 essential workers and at-risk residents to find state-subsidized child care. That includes 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.

That’s after the governor signed an executive order to expand 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.

“Child care becomes even more important as we begin to modify the stay-at-home order in the state of California,” Newsom said, referencing his four-step plan that is expected to reopen some businesses in the coming weeks.

The other $50 million is meant to help state officials make sure all the centers are sanitized and have personal protective equipment to limit the spread of the virus.

The state’s education and social services departments issued a guidance for child care centers on how to safely care for the children.

“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.

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