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City’s Emergency Child Care Expands, Serving More Children and Helping More Essential Workers

SEATTLE (April 24, 2020) – This week, the City announced it has expanded eligibility for its Emergency Child Care program, administered through the Department of Education and Early Learning. First launched to serve first responders and workers in healthcare, grocery, and pharmacy following school closures, the program is now open to essential City personnel and employees of organizations doing priority level one work as defined by the Mayor’s office of Essential Operations Management, families experiencing homelessness, and workers identified as essential under Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. 

To launch Emergency Child Care, the City has partnered with community-based Seattle Preschool Program and Seattle Pathway providers. Currently, there are 273 seats at 21 sites (with 33 individual classrooms) available for children of essential workers and families experiencing housing instability, with three more sites expected to open soon. A total of 151 children are currently enrolled in the program. 

All child care providers in the Emergency Child Care program are operating under new guidelines from Public Health—Seattle & King County for child care administrators operating during COVID-19. These health and safety guidelines emphasize smaller group sizes for social distancing, daily health screenings, and greater frequency of cleaning and sanitizing, among other health and safety measures.  

“I want to thank all our Seattle Preschool Program and Pathway providers who have adapted their classrooms, their programs, and even their own lives in the middle of this crisis to help provide quality care for the families who need it to continue their critical work,” said Dwane Chappelle, Director of the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning. “We’re proud to have each of you as partners as we respond to this unparalleled challenge.” 

Essential workers are invited to apply for the program on the Department of Education and Early Learning website, which lists additional program details and more information about eligibility groups. DEEL has partnered with various employers and partner networks representing essential sectors to identify families in need of care. Today, the City also distributed invitations to City departments for employees doing essential work under the City’s Continuity of Operations Plan.  

As part of the program’s expansion, the City is partnering with King County and Child Care Resources (CCR) to expand emergency child care services countywide. The City is referring families to CCR who need care for infants and toddlers, as the Seattle Preschool Program classrooms are only equipped for preschool and school-age children. CCR is also receiving the City’s referrals for families needing care outside of Seattle. 

“Child Care Resources and the City of Seattle have a long history of partnering in support of the children, families and child care providers of Seattle,” said Phoebe Anderson, CCR’s Interim Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer. “We are so excited to continue this collaboration in service of our essential personnel during this pandemic. A focus on infants and toddlers is a real response to the demand we are seeing in our call center.” 

If you work in an essential position identified on the Emergency Child Care website and did not receive an email into the program from your employer, you can apply for participation online. DEEL staff will respond to your request within 24-48 hours and match you with the licensed childcare provider closest to your area with open slots.  

For infant and toddler care or care outside city limits, please contact Child Care Resources at 206-329-5544. 

DEEL’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle’s children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education.