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State Program Offers Child Care To Health Care, Essential Workers

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A new state program will offer free child care to workers on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus and those working to keep us safe, as students continue their schooling from home.

“Today we are announcing the launch of One Utah Child Care,” said Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox on Monday. “This issue is most critically felt among our most essential employees, working on the frontlines to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Parents who qualify include those working in healthcare, public health, public safety and law enforcement.

“Child care is critical right now to keep Utahns working,” said Tracy Gruber, director of the Utah Office of Child Care.

The announcement came after the creation of the COVID-19 Child Care Task Force, which is made up of representatives from hospitals, education, and businesses.

“Beginning this week, there will be at least 10 programs online to provide this child care as soon as Wednesday, with more coming online throughout the week and in the weeks to come,” Gruber said.

The program was welcome news for small business owners like Linda Sego, who owns Sunshine Academy.

The toys and surfaces at her Alpine location have gone untouched ever since schools dismissed students more than two weeks ago. Her West Valley location remains open but the loss of business forced her to close her third center in Magna.

“This is hard for everybody,” Sego said. “You almost feel like, it’s not happening, like you’re in denial.”

That’s part of the reason why she jumped at the opportunity to be part of One Utah Child Care.

“I wanted to feel like I was contributing,” she said. “This is a terrible thing that’s going on right now.”

Sego joined a growing list of providers for the new program, required to go beyond typical licensing standards to become an emergency child care facility.

Sego, for example, had to add a new wall to her Alpine facility to allow for three separate classrooms that can hold up to eight children each with two adults.

“We can only have eight in each classroom no matter what,” she said.

There are also hand washing and sanitizing requirements throughout the day, and no one is allowed inside the facility without a thermometer check.

“We have to screen each child before they come in or anyone that enters the center.”

For Sego, the state program is a way for her to not only help her employees get and her business get back up and running, but it means helping parents who are working on the frontlines to keep us safe from the virus and in our communities.

Sites with school-age children will provide time for distance learning activities so students can stay engaged with their schoolwork while they’re attending these locations.

“They will remain open as long as schools are closed,” Gruber said.

Organizers have also taken into consideration finding services for essential workers who work odd hours.

“The one Utah Child Care system is maintaining a list of caregivers who have been background checked and have received pre-service orientation willing to work in people’s homes,” Gruber said, adding parents will have to make those arrangements directly with the caregivers.

Gruber said nonessential workers need to know that child care centers are available to them as well.

There are lots of child care providers throughout the state of Utah who are open and have capacity and are practicing social distancing and other safety protocols to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” she said.

To see if you qualify for One Utah Child Care or to get more information about the program and participating providers, click here.


Coronavirus Resources  

How Do I Prevent It?  

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:  

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick  
  • Avoid touching your face  
  • Stay home when you are sick  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.  

How To Get Help  

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.   

Additional Resources  

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov. 

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