RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond has worked with YMCA of Greater Richmond to organize emergency childcare centers for elementary and middle school-aged children of “essential” medical workers in the city during the coronavirus pandemic.
The partnership was announced by Mayor Levar Stoney Friday outside the YMCA in downtown Richmond, which will be the site of the first emergency childcare center. Children of essential medical personnel at VCU Health can get childcare at the Downtown Y starting on Monday. They will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“When Superintendent Kamras made the tough but correct decision to close Richmond Public Schools last week, it was immediately clear to us that the city needed to gather its partners around the table and ensure the city’s most essential workforce wouldn’t have to worry about childcare while they’re on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Mayor Stoney said in a statement.
The city plans to open several other centers at Richmond Public Schools facilities with the help of YMCA and the Community Foundation.
“The YMCA of Greater Richmond is honored to serve the families of our healthcare personnel during this unprecedented time,” said Tim Joyce, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond. “Our quality staff team is looking forward to giving these families the comfort of knowing their children are in a safe environment with professional caregivers who are dedicated to their community.”
The Y is also in talks with HCA and Bon Secours in hopes of opening up childcare to them as well. Registration for the childcare will be handled by the healthcare systems.
“None of the essential workforce should have to choose between knowing their kids are safe and keeping our community running,” Stoney continued. “That’s why I charged my administration with providing this network of support. I’m excited to build it out.”
Any child experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus or living with anyone who does, will not be allowed in the centers. The childcare centers will follow guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and social services.
Joyce said they will be following guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Department of Social Services to ensure safety, like keeping a 9:1 child to staff ratio.
“We’ll be screening them, we’ll be taking temperatures, we’ll be making sure everybody’s washing hands,” said Joyce.
Mayor Stoney also hopes to provide emergency childcare for essential workers who are not in the medical field. Stoney’s administration is awaiting approval from the Virginia Department of Social Services to open childcare at Richmond Public Schools facilities for employees like city bus drivers, sanitation workers and grocery store clerks.
“My team will work with employers across the city to identify essential personnel with children,” Stoney said.
On March 24, YMCA of Greater Richmond announced it would be expanding the childcare program to include four other locations starting March 30: Shady Grove, Tuckahoe, Chester and Midlothian.
“These are unprecedented times unlike any we have been through, and we are honored to be able to serve in this capacity during this time of need,” Tim Joyce, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond said in a statement.
The program will also now include children of all essential personnel. You can check whether you qualify here.