WINNIPEG - The province is calling on all child- care providers to help the heroes who are on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Heather Stefanson said Thursday.
The Manitoba government wants to thank all child-care providers that have stepped up to provide care to the children of health-care and other emergency services workers.
“The early childhood educators and child-care centres that have stepped up to provide child care to health-care and other emergency services workers are truly heroes helping heroes, and I want to thank them for stepping up during this difficult time,” said Stefanson. “There are still health-care and other emergency services workers who need child care, and today I want to call on child-care providers throughout our province to help those workers as they provide needed services during this pandemic.”
As of March 31, more than 1,200 children of health-care and other emergency services workers have been matched with an available space. To support centres so they can re-open during this critical time, the minister noted the first quarter of the provincial operating grant, amounting to nearly $30 million, started flowing to all licensed child-care centres as of April 1. Licensed child-care facilities that want to help by re-opening or continuing to have spaces available should notify the province by emailing email@example.com.
Last month, the government also announced new programs to expand home and community-based child care, including an $18-million grant program to help early childhood educators begin independently offering child-care services at their homes or in the community, administered by the Winnipeg and Manitoba chambers of commerce. The chambers will also offer business mentorship to early childhood educators looking to open up their homes or other locations in the community to provide child care. Early childhood educators can apply for the grant by filling out the Temporary Child Care Service Grant Form at https://forms.gov.mb.ca/temporary-child-care-service-grant/.
“It is not too late to step up and help out, whether you are operating in a child-care centre or in your own home,” said Stefanson. “Our government is providing financial support to child-care centres and early childhood educators during this difficult time, and we will continue to support the child-care sector so that we can help ensure health-care and other emergency services workers can continue working during this pandemic.”
All child-care centres have also been asked by the province to reimburse parent fees if care has not been provided and to not charge parents to hold spots if they are not being used, the minister added.
Licensed child-care centres will continue to be limited to 16 spaces to support social distancing and infection prevention measures based on the advice of the chief provincial public health officer. Some larger centres with segregated rooms and separate external entrances are able to offer care for up to 16 children per room. This will continue indefinitely in alignment with the decision regarding kindergarten to Grade 12 schools.
“If you are a front-line health-care or other emergency services worker, we want to hear from you,” said Stefanson. “Staff will continue working around the clock to ensure that you can get the child care that you need so you can continue working during this pandemic, after which we will be expanding service to all critical services workers as defined by the chief provincial public health officer.”
Health-care and other emergency services workers can apply for a child-care space by filling out the request form at https://forms.gov.mb.ca/GoMCovid19ESW/. These parents, which include health-care providers, emergency service providers, corrections workers, law enforcement workers, fire and paramedic workers, and direct social services and child protection workers, should submit their request to be matched with a child-care spot by Wednesday, April 8, so that they can be prioritized for placement. Families that have already submitted a request do not need to complete the form again, as the province is already working to match them with an available space.
Beginning on Tuesday, April 14, all parents who work in critical services, as defined by the chief provincial public health officer, will be able to access child-care spaces available in licensed facilities. This includes support staff at hospitals and clinics, grocery store staff, farmers and farm workers, construction workers, bank or credit union employees. Parents working in these sectors who have been unable to make other child-care arrangements will be able to check which facilities have available spaces at www.manitoba.ca/covid19 and work directly with them to receive a spot.
The listing of critical services, as authorized under The Public Health Act, is available at https://news.gov.mb.ca/asset_library/en/newslinks/2020/03/BG-PHA_-_COVID-19-PR.pdf.