The District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB) has received approval from the Province of Ontario to open the second emergency child care centre for our community to provide licensed emergency child care for children of health care providers and other essential service workers.
Child Care Algoma has been working with the DSSMSSAB and Algoma Public Health to expand this much needed service at their Dacey Rd. location. The program is scheduled to open April 27, 2020.
“For over 30 years, Child Care Algoma has been dedicated to being a leader in providing quality programs which support healthy early childhood development and we take this responsibility very seriously” says Anne Deluco, Child Care Algoma, Executive Director. “Although there is much uncertainty as we all navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic, we hope that our Emergency Child Care Program will provide some peace of mind for our Community’s health care and other front line workers knowing their children will be cared for in a safe, nurturing learning environment. Through the support and guidance received from Algoma Public Health and Social Services we will ensure every precaution is taken for the safety and well being of our staff and the children in our care.”
In the same way as the first emergency child care program, which opened two weeks ago at the YMCA McNabb St. location, this second licensed service is also funded by the Province of Ontario at no cost to families. Services are available for children under the age of 12 and will operate with extended hours of up to 14 hours a day and 5 days a week. Weekend hours of care are being considered, however at this time are not available.
In order to ensure the health and safety of all participating children, staff and families, emergency child care partners have worked closely with Algoma Public Health to put additional precautionary measures in place at each program site. All staff, parents and children are carefully screened before anyone enters the site. At no time do parents actually enter the child care program; children are greeted and brought into the building by screened staff. The number of adults children interact with is limited. Enhanced cleaning practices occur throughout the whole day and toys and furnishings that cannot be easily cleaned have been removed. The group sizes are much smaller than they normally are in licensed child care to assist with social distancing.
Emergency child care services are reserved exclusively for children of essential and critical service workers identified in the Province of Ontario’s “List of Workers Eligible for Emergency Child Care,” https://www.ontario.ca/page/child-care-health-care-and-frontline-staff and who have limited alternatives. Priority will be determined by Social Services based on eligibility and available spaces.
In order to be able to provide critical work in the community, essential staff are in need of emergency child care spaces. While we all recognize that the safest option for families is to have children remain at home, there are many providing critical services to our community who have no other option and we are here to support them.
Luke Dufour, DSSMSSAB chair, expressed his appreciation. “We would like to thank Algoma Public Health for their continued support and assistance as well as the Early Childhood Educators and staff working in emergency child care. Their help has been instrumental in ensuring these two programs are available in our community for families of our critical and essential workers.”
Essential service workers should complete and submit the online application available at www.socialservices-ssmd.ca and will be contacted by Social Services staff to receive more information.