The Colorado Department of Human Services has announced that the state will cover child-care costs for essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak through at least May 17.
Many child-care facilities were closed when on-site learning at schools was shut down earlier this month. But days later, on March 16, Westword published an internal communiqué sent by DHS and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment urging child-care centers not to proactively cease operations because of the burden the lack of these services places on families, including those working in fields deemed essential — a point Colorado Governor Jared Polis publicly reinforced during a March 18 press conference.
At the time, Polis said the state was working on helping out such workers when it came to child care, and the plan has now come together. "Recognizing the need for child care for essential workers, Governor Polis called together a group of early childhood providers, advocacy groups, school districts and foundations to partner with Gary Community Investments and the Colorado Department of Human Services to establish a system of emergency child care," the DHS release notes. "With generous support from Centura Health and the Buell Foundation, the Emergency Child Care Collaborative began on March 23, supporting the families of health care providers, public safety personnel and staff supporting critically at-risk populations."
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Now, the ECCC is confirming that "beginning immediately, the state will extend a full tuition credit to all essential workers identified in Updated Public Health Order 20-24 issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This 100 percent tuition credit will provide child care to all essential workers until May 17."
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Here's a list of the essential workers covered by the order:
Health Care Operations
Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations
Critical Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Critical Operations of Residences or Other Critical Businesses
Vendors that Provide Critical Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services
In a statement, Polis said, "We know that this global pandemic is putting an unprecedented strain on Colorado’s health care and emergency workers. More than 80,000 of our emergency workers have children under age 8, and without child care, many of these workers will not be able to perform the jobs that are most crucial to containing the spread of the virus. I thank this group of childhood providers, advocacy groups, school districts and foundations for their partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services and Gary Community Investments to establish a system of emergency child care for our workers on the frontlines of this crisis."