MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Over 200 child care providers in Merced County remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve children of essential workers, according to the Merced County Office of Education.
The county office of education says child care providers have been forced to serve fewer children in order to remain in compliance with state guidance, making it difficult for them to remain in business.
Child care providers such as licensed child care home providers, licensed-exempt and private centers are needed to help young children through collaborative state and local programs, officials with the office of education say.
Rosa Barragan, director of Early Education Support Services for the Merced County Office of Education says child care providers are getting some much-needed supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These supplies include hand sanitizer, thermometers, diapers, disinfectant wipes, soap and masks. Child care providers who remained open are also being provided with a monetary stipend to purchase supplies.
“Child care is essential for working parents and our communities,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “MCOE’s Early Education Department is committed to ensuring child care providers have the tools to create the safest environment for our youngest students.”
Barragan says funding to supply these materials and stipends is coming from different funding sources, including First 5 of California, the local First 5 of Merced County, the California Department of Education, and the State Department of Social Services.
There are 206 licensed home child care providers, and officials say that is not enough to meet the needs of working families.
“We have grants to help with the licensing process and our staff are ready to provide technical assistance for anyone interested in opening a child care business. Child care providers are an essential part of our infrastructure and are greatly needed as we reopen, so families can go back to work and so parents can have options,” Barragan said.
The Early Education Department offers professional development classes for licensed family child care providers, private centers, and families. For information call (209) 381-4585.