Rep. Vance Aloupis says the state should provide Florida’s first responders with emergency child care as those workers continue to stand on the front lines of the state’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
“With more than a quarter-million health care workers in Florida with children under the age of 14, emergency child care will be essential to ensuring that Florida’s front lines are properly staffed as the number of cases of COVID-19 in Florida continue to increase through the end of April and into May,” Aloupis wrote in a recent letter to Office of Early Learning Director Shan Goff.
“The Governor’s office, the Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that our state’s early learning system survives this difficult chapter in history. Now, we must ensure that we are doing everything we can to support those men and women who are working each and every day to pull Florida through.”
Should Florida make sure a move, they wouldn’t be the first state to do so. Several other Governors have stepped in as first responders across the country battle the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, for instance, ordered child care facilities shut down in mid-March. But he pushed to continue services for families of “essential persons.” That group includes health care workers and first responders.
In Florida, some individual organizations have helped fill in the gap. The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County offered a limited number of scholarships for children of first responders. Some YMCA centers have also stepped in to offer child care for those families.
Aloupis argues the demand on those families will only increase as Florida approaches its peak in coronavirus cases.
“As we begin to see even greater pressure being put on our health care system, our firefighters, our police, our paramedics, we must be doing all we can to ensure that they can go to work each day knowing that their children are safe,” Aloupis said.
“These are the sorts of policies that will give our first responders the peace of mind they need to continue fighting for every Floridian.”
Aloupis has a background in child care. He serves as the CEO for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a 501(c) (3) organization aimed at making gains in early education.