Hamilton

City offers free emergency childcare to essential workers during COVID-19 outbreak

Three licensed agencies are helping care for the children of frontline workers.

Schools in Ontario likely won't reopen April 6

Child care spaces for school-age children of front-line workers and first responders in London have now been filled, according to the City. But children born in 2014 and 2015 may be able to be accommodated at some centres. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Free emergency child care is now being offered by three agencies in partnership with the city to support workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. 

On Tuesday, the City of Hamilton announced that at-home child care agencies, Todays Family, Wee Watch Golfwood and Wee Watch Galbraith, will look after children between the ages of one to 12-years-old free of charge. Those who qualify for this service include healthcare workers, police, fire, paramedics, public health, long-term care, HSR and correctional officers. 

Since all schools in Ontario closed on March 14, healthcare workers have been concerned about childcare.  

In light of these concerns, an initiative was started by medical students at McMaster University who began babysitting and running errands for healthcare workers on March 17. At the time, 130 post-secondary students in the region volunteered and 45 healthcare workers had reached out for help. 

McMaster medical students Mary Boulos (left), Francis Lao (top) and Mackenzie Stoness (bottom) are some of the lead organizers of the McMaster Healthcare Student COVID-19 Response Team. (Supplied by Mary Boulos, Mackenzie Stoness and Francis Lao)

Schools were expected to reopen April 6, but on Monday, Ontario's Premier Doug Ford said it doesn't look like that will be the case. 

All agencies working with the city are able to provide care in 12 hour shifts and are working with public health to ensure they maintain appropriate safety measures that limit any possible exposure to COVID-19. The child care agencies have implemented the following strategies: 

  • Children and staff who are ill with fever and/or infectious respiratory symptoms must stay home.

  • Good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene must be consistently practiced.

  • Enhanced environmental cleaning of the facility will take place.

  • Families who have recently travelled out of province are required to stay home from child care for 14 days.

Each agency has limited space and enrolment is streamlined to allow ease of access for essential workers, says a release from the city. Families who are eligible for this service are to identify as healthcare or frontline staff when contacting agencies. More information can be provided from the agencies: 

  • Today's Family, 905-574-9344 ext. 112 or www.todaysfamily.ca

  • Wee Watch Golfwood, 905-574-5409 ext. 203 or Karenmitchell314@gmail.com

  • Wee Watch Galbraith, 905-561-0008 or wee_watch@hotmail.com

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