Mayor Durkan To Issue Emergency Order to Fund Childcare for First Responders and Essential Workers for More Than 700 Children

Essential Workers like Health Care Workers, First Responders, Pharmacy Workers and Grocery Store Workers Will Be Prioritized For Childcare

Seattle (March 27, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced she will issue an Emergency Order later today to allow the City of Seattle to fund emergency childcare for essential workers including health care professionals, first responders and grocery store workers.

In partnership with Seattle Preschool Program providers, the City announced a proposal for more than $1 million per month which will allow the implementation of more than 75 emergency childcare classrooms in five locations near hospitals and 22 other preschool sites across the city, which could serve more than 700 kids of front line workers under current Public Health – Seattle & King County guidance. These classrooms, which will serve preschool as well as school-aged children, will be staffed with Seattle Preschool Program staff and substitute teachers.

“Because childcare is so critical, the City of Seattle is doing all we can to help our essential workers during this public health emergency,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “I am so grateful for our partnership with the incredible preschool providers who have stepped up to meet this urgent need. These facilities will be absolutely critical as our region prepares for a surge in COVID-19 cases. We can’t afford for a single health care worker to be prevented from coming to work due to childcare concerns.”

The Mayor’s emergency order will allow the City of Seattle to use the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise funding for emergency childcare. The contracts under this emergency order will be in effect for 30 days and may be extended up to additional terms.

“The City is stepping up to take care of the people who are taking care of us by standing up emergency childcare systems so our frontline responders, from health care providers to grocery store workers, can know their children are in a safe environment,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “The City is providing essential services for our essential workers, those who are carrying the burden of keeping this community healthy and whole. I also want to thank Seattle Public Schools and other childcare providers, who have opened their doors for emergency childcare. This is a great show of community coming together, all hands on deck, for Seattle’s frontline workers and their children.”

Essential worker childcare classrooms will begin to identify children on Monday, March 30th. The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning will coordinate with the Northwest Healthcare Response Network, the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Fire Department and others to enroll families to ensure all medical personnel and first responders are aware of this new resource. Other eligible families can access care by visiting  http://www.seattle.gov/education on Monday with classrooms expected to begin to open next week.

On March 12, 2020, the Governor of Washington state issued an order closing schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties then the following day expanded his order to require the statewide closure of K-12 public and private schools until April 24, 2020. The closure of schools and many childcare facilities has created an urgent need for childcare among those still required to come to work. A recent directive the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction indicates priority populations for childcare include essential workers like health care workers, first responders, pharmacy workers and grocery store workers among others.