“It’s one less thing I have to worry about,” Venus Pacheco’s Story On Accessing Emergency Childcare

Frontline Worker Venus Pacheco shares her story of how Emergency Childcare makes a difference in her life.

At 8 p.m. each night when Seattle bangs pots and pans, sings and plays instruments for our front line workers, they are cheering people like Venus Pacheco who is working long days at the North Admiral Safeway during the COVID-19 crisis.

While Venus is working up to 50 hours a week to keep up with the surging demand for groceries across Seattle, she was dealt a surprise on March 11th when Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School informed her that her 8-year-old son Dominico could no longer come to school due to the threat of COVID-19.

“My first thought was concern for all the older people,” said Venus. “My mom is 76 and she is still working full time at an essential business. I’m not concerned for myself, but I am concerned for her.”

But the March school closure had an impact on her shifts and left Venus scrambling for someone to care for Dominico. “I had two different friends of mine who were able to watch him and then sometimes I paid for a drop in spot at the YMCA.”

Venus is a manager at the FreshCuts section of the grocery store that supplies harried and increasingly worried families with precut fruits and vegetables to simplify dinnertime. She has noticed an uptick in demand for prepared fresh food and as a result is working more overtime these days.

“I’m not worried for myself about getting coronavirus. Being worried about getting it ruins my day and just kind of ruins the outlook of everything. I don’t need any more worry when I have to worry about my kid, finding daycare for him, asking friends to watch him and getting him transported to different places.”

Venus was finally able find the City of Seattle’s Emergency Child Care site run by Launch Learning at Highland Park Elementary School. Since launching the program, more than 120 kids have been enrolled in Emergency Child Care while their parents, like Venus, are helping our community get through this pandemic.

“This was a blessing for me. It’s one less thing I have to stress about in life,” said Venus. “Jessica at Launch and her team are simply amazing. They supply breakfast, lunch and snacks while taking temperatures and washing hands throughout the day.”

The City currently runs 27 classrooms throughout the City for the children of healthcare workers, first responders, grocery workers or pharmacy workers. Essential employees in these industries are encouraged to visit the City of Seattle Emergency Child Care website and fill out an interest form to apply for childcare.  

“I just want to say thank you to everyone and anyone who has allowed us frontline workers to feel a-little more at ease in this chaos,” said Venus. “I could not have done it without them.”