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Day cares remain open amid health crisis, citing much-needed child care for essential workers

Some day cares say they are needed to help those in the medical and grocery fields do their jobs without worrying what to do with their children.

PORTLAND, Ore. — For parents who rely on child care, it is a stressful time wondering whether their facility will shut down. Others have already seen their day cares close. But some have decided to remain open to help families in this time of crisis.

One family that’s benefiting from the daycare help is the Caldwells.

Kristen Caldwell is mom to an 18-month-old boy named Turner. Because of the coronavirus, life is extra busy. She's working from her Vancouver home right now as a communications manager for a church and her husband works as an administrator in health care.

Caldwell and her husband have decided to keep their son in day care.

“We're both responding to this COVID-19 situation in our jobs, so it's really kind of a relief not to have to worry at this point about finding alternative child care sources,” she said.

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Caldwell said her day care in Vancouver has decided, at least for now, to remain open and take extra precautions. She's comfortable with her son's surroundings and grateful the facility is still open.

“They provide child care for a lot of families of those first responders and health care workers. They are so needed,” said Caldwell.

Credit: Caldwell family
Kristen Caldwell with her son Turner

In Portland, Grandma’s Place Early Learning Center has also decided to keep its two locations open.

“We will support them in any way that we can,” said Molly Slough with Grandma’s Place.

“We have people who work in hospitals and doctor’s offices and grocery stores, and all those services that most people just take for granted. Those employees are very appreciative that we're staying open,” she said.

But Slough said they and other day cares have also received pushback from some parents, criticizing their decision to stay open.

“It's a little disheartening,” said Slough. “We work really hard to take it in stride.”

For now, the plan is to stay open, especially after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown emphasized the need for child care services to help essential workers.

“They need to feel like their kids are safe and secure so they can go to work,” Slough said.

Slough said Grandma’s Place Early Learning Center has now expanded to also take school-aged children whose parents have to work.

Back in Vancouver, Caldwell knows things are fluid and could change. But until then, she's got faith in her day care.

“I totally support parents who feel their child is in an unsafe place, but that's not where my heart is right now,” she said.

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