The state of Florida will offer child care to families of first responders and health care workers as Florida continues to feel the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The move comes after a push from Rep. Vance Aloupis to enact such a plan as schools remain closed throughout the state. That’s presented a problem for those families, who must find a way to care for their kids while still standing on the front lines of the battle against the virus.
The state’s Office of Early Learning described the change in a single page document outlining how to apply for those child care services.
“The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning along with local early learning coalitions throughout the state are prioritizing child care for first responders and health care workers,” the document reads.
“Child care services for these personnel will be provided regardless of income. The eligibility requirements include: the child is a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, the family resides in Florida, and one or both parents is employed as a first responder or health care worker.”
The move does not require child care centers across the state to reopen. A majority have already closed. But for those that do remain in operation, these families will now have access to the services for free, where available.
“I am truly grateful to the Office of Early Learning and the Department of Education for listening to our concerns and supporting Florida’s healthcare workers and our first responders on this issue,” Aloupis said in a Friday statement.
“Emergency child care has become a reality in most states across our nation, and I believe Florida’s model will support our frontline workers, as well as keep our children and families safe during this pandemic.”
Individuals can apply using the child care application and authorization form provided by their employer. They can then apply through the Family Portal at the Office of Early Learning website.
Other states have made similar moves as a way of providing support to those first responders and health care workers. Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, 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.
A groups of states including Colorado, Minnesota and Washington have made similar moves.
Aloupis has a background in child education himself. He serves as the CEO for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a 501(c) (3) organization aimed at making gains in early childhood education.