CHILDCARE DURING COVID-19
April 2020 - Present
Stage: Information Gathering
Where We Stand
Amid closed day care centers during the Coronavirus pandemic,
Paramedics, EMT's and Fire Fighters on the front lines should be offered a reduced fee to hold spots in their child's closed day care centers.
In this time of crisis, and throughout their careers, our Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians, Fire Fighters and support staff answer the call for service, routinely putting the needs of others before their own. Responders continue to answer that call, despite challenges protecting and caring for their families amid the pandemic.
On April 8th, 2020 the Guilford County Board of Commissioners
convened an emergency meeting to address the continuity of essential services during the coronavirus pandemic. That evening, Commissioners voted 7-1 (1 not present) to exempt nearly 1,800 Guilford County employees considered "essential" from two provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA,) including nearly 300 Emergency Services employees. Under the act, employees were able to take 2 - 12 weeks of paid leave if unable to work. Under the exemption, employees could not take this leave if:
caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2) Qualifying Reason #4
caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons
RESPOND TO THE SURVEY
Images of Guilford County EMS providers and their families proudly blanket the fridge door at EMS Base #4. (4/21/2020 @ Guilford County EMS)
Our responders both care for and depend on their families, a major source of support in a rewarding but challenging profession. Some balance their work life with the care of children, some as single parents, and may struggle to provide for their child's needs amid reduced capacity or closures of childcare facilities and schools.
The provisions of the FFCRA would have allowed those on the front lines to take needed time to care for loved ones or children, with dollars provided by the federal government. With Guilford County schools closed indefinitely, and many daycares shuttered, options are limited. Childcare is often expensive, so when the Guilford County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics (GCPFFP,) learned parents at Emergency Services were paying full fees to hold their children's spots at closed daycares, we started looking for a solution. As the price of household items climbs during the economic disruption of the pandemic, we want to come to a solution to help our providers in financial strain. Benefits that allow our Paramedics, EMT’s and Fire Fighters to care, feed, and otherwise provide for their loved ones are paramount, and allow our providers to direct their full focus and energy to serving our community.
Fortunately, area daycares in compliance with rigorous standards by the Department of Health and Human Services offered some capacity to responders, as well as Guilford County Schools. But that is only the beginning. The GCPFFP is committed to working with private industry, non-profits, and the government at all levels to solve issues like this one for those on the front lines of this crisis - so they can continue their crucial work.
Before any issue is pursued by the Guilford County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics, relevant laws, policies, research and data are reviewed. We carefully consider the factors behind an issue, then work through the resources to make needed changes. Ultimately, by supporting the Paramedics, EMT's, and Fire Fighters affected by this issue, we're ensuring they can continue to provide services at the high level the public expects and deserves.
We're currently collecting survey data to analyze the problem, so we can work towards a solution.