EMERGENCY CHILDCARE SITE FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
With much of the world closed, there are still people who need to go to work – healthcare staff and first responders are the more obvious ones, but think about the sanitation, grocery store, delivery people, and the postal workers. And where would we be if the telecommunications, IT, and cable folks weren’t able to go to work?
Schools and childcare centers were closed by the Governor on March 23 to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Existing childcare centers were allowed to apply to be an emergency childcare center, so those people who still HAVE to go to work can do so with a safe place for their children. 18 Degrees deliberated if we would be able to open. What would it mean for our staff? Would we have staff who would volunteer to come to work? How could we keep our people safe, while continuing to serve the community we love?
Not surprising, our childcare Program Directors, Elise and Pam, felt compelled to open. They asked their childcare staff if they would come to work – we needed 8 to open and 12 stepped up. We applied for and received funding from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund established by Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
On March 31 we opened as an emergency childcare site. In response, we received this message from a parent:
I am very grateful they (18 Degrees) decided to work with our state authorities, implementing all precautions and guidelines to create a safe place for children of essential workers like myself.
Ricky enjoys spending time creating, playing, and making new memories during such a daunting time. An extra special highlight at 18 Degrees is their location on outer West St. With the recent sunny days, the children have been able to get outside in a safe, healthy environment and enjoy some fresh air.
The first day getting to know the protocol of drop off and pick up was certainly different. Upon arrival I was directed to call so a staff member could meet us outside. The staff member comes out with a mask, gloves, and an ear thermometer and I am asked to maintain the 6 ft. social distancing guideline. Initially it made me feel awkward and uncomfortable, which changed quickly into great comfort knowing my child is in safe, educated, well prepared hands.
I am extremely grateful for all of the staff at 18 Degrees, who made the decision to show up each day, leave their loved ones, their home front to take care of my son, take time to talk, or answer any questions I may have. Truly an outstanding place!
We are proud and grateful that we have the staff that sees the possibilities that may not be clear, but know when we work together, better days will come to light.