As Danbury Residents Head Back to Workplaces, Licensed Family Child Care Providers Play a Key Role
Reliable, quality child care is a crucial element in the reopening of the economy in the City of Danbury, across the state, and across the nation. For many workers with young children, leaving home and heading back to their jobs is not an option unless they have a safe, affordable place where their children will be taken care of while they work.
Since the beginning of 2018, Danbury’s Cora’s Kids network has been working to increase the number of licensed family child care homes in Danbury, while also providing supports and services to those who were already licensed. While many of the providers in the Cora’s Kids network were not operating during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic because their clients lost jobs or were afraid to send their children to care, 32 of the 35 providers in the network are now open and ready to begin accepting children into their programs. Cora’s Kids is part of the DanburyWORKS initiative, whose mission is to improve equity and the quality of life in the City of Danbury. United Way of Western Connecticut provides backbone support.
As with other small businesses, reopening a family child care is not as easy as simply opening the door and turning the lights back on. The Cora’s Kids network has been readying their providers to implement proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures and helping them to obtain the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to prevent the virus from spreading. They are also providing marketing support to providers so they can make the community aware of openings at their centers while conveying the importance of parents choosing a safe, licensed center, rather than unregulated “underground care.”
The Cora’s Kids network has also assigned mentors to help the providers navigate the complex paperwork they need to submit to regain the wages they lost by applying to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and guiding them through the loan forgiveness process. Some providers are eligible for bonuses for taking care of children of essential workers, and they need guidance in obtaining those funds as well.
“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it has highlighted the fact that quality child care is indispensable to an effective workforce—especially for essential workers,” said Elizabeth Quiñonez, the Early Child Care Initiative Manager at United Way. “We want people on the front lines—nurses, EMTs, grocery store workers—to feel like their kids are safe and well cared for while they do their jobs.”
She noted that licensed family child care is often the most flexible option for essential workers, rather than child care centers, because they are more likely to provide care outside of the 9 am to 5 pm weekday timeframe. Many essential workers need care during nontraditional working hours.
Most of the licensed providers who are part of the Cora’s Kids network in Danbury are listed with Childcare 2-1-1. For more information about the Cora’s Kids Network, contact Elizabeth Quiñonez at 203-297-6738.