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Childcare providers urged to stay open amid COVID-19 crisis

Governor: 80,000 emergency workers need child care
Posted at 11:22 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 13:22:06-04

The phrase "It takes a village" has never been more true than right now, during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Colorado-based company MyVillage is working with the state to keep child care available for parents who need to work. The need is especially great for an estimated 80,000 emergency workers in Colorado with young children.

"There are some essential services that will need to stay open so the parents will need to go to work," said MyVillage founder Elizabeth Szymanski. MyVillage helps people establish licensed daycare facilities in their own homes.

Governor Jared Polis has urged daycare and early education providers to stay open during the crisis. In an executive order, he directed state agencies to find ways to use public school buildings for child care for essential workers, since those buildings will not be used for K-12 students during the state-mandated closure.

Daycare centers and home based providers are currently following the CDC and state guidelines, trying to limit the number of children in groups and practice social distancing as much as possible.

"A lot of the guidance that’s coming out is saying you really need to limit the gathering size of a community and so that’s where home-based care is really well positioned," Szymanski said.

Rebecca Bergstrom, a MyVillage provider, feels it's her duty to stay open, despite the fact that she may be putting her family at greater risk of exposure to the virus.

"I feel like, yeah, maybe I'm a little bit more at risk, but honestly, I feel like I have a small setting, and if I'm able to provide a little bit of relief for families who are feeling really stressed right now, then I'm going to do that," Bergstrom said.

Szymanski praised early childhood educators and child care providers as "front line heroes" during a difficult time. MyVillage has partnered with investors Spring Point and Acumen America to provide a consistent income for providers who may lose some clients as a result of the pandemic.

The company is also transitioning to virtual tours for families looking for daycare, and virtual training for people interested in becoming MyVillage childcare providers.