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Child-Care Providers Unsung Heroes in COVID-19 Crisis

Health care and other essential workers are struggling to find child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
Health care and other essential workers are struggling to find child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
April 14, 2020

RARLEIGH, N.C. -- The issue of child care is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic as essential workers continue to search for options following the closure of schools and child-care centers. Many hospitals have even stepped in to help their employees find child care.

Tara Pruett is a registered nurse who works at a hospital in Rockingham County. Her husband also is an essential worker. Her daughter's child-care center is a short drive from her employer, but it has shut its doors.

Pruett said individual providers at the center have offered to watch her child in their homes, and members of her church have also offered to help.

"They are one of the behind-the-scene jobs that people aren't thankful enough for, I don't believe, until you are put into a position where you might not have them," Pruett said.

Some child-care centers in Rockingham County, including Trinity Wesleyan Education Center, remain open. The state Department of Health and Human Services has said it will temporarily pay bonuses to full-time employees that provide care for children of essential workers who have no other safe options, and said it also will offer financial assistance to help essential workers afford child care during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the state, roughly 30% of child-care facilities in North Carolina have closed. Pruett said patients' lives depend on nurses, doctors and other hospital staff having reliable and affordable child care.

"Everybody who works in a hospital, and I don't just mean nurses, they need to be supported and backed up with people who can care for their children," she said. "And if you're worrying about where you are going to place your child for that day, you're not going to be able to be here and focused."

Centers that have chosen to remain open are following new safety and sanitation guidelines issued by the state. Essential workers can call the state's COVID-19 child-care hotline at 1-888-600-1685 to be connected to local options.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC