The Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs), with careful consideration of many factors, has made the decision to close the office and all 4Cs Preschool sites for all non-essential services beginning March 17th through Friday March 27th. This date could be extended as things change and as we comply with the shelter in place order. Child care is an essential business, and to be able to serve our community we need to be part of the solution during this emergency by limiting social interactions and strategically opening programs to support essential employees. We are carefully tracking developments, communicating with all licensed providers and coordinating with the County and our Health Care Providers. Parents, child care providers and the community will be kept informed about child care resources and requirements through our social media, regular email updates for providers and our website. We will keep the public at large informed through future press releases, updates to our website , and through our social media.
4Cs has monitored communications from Sonoma County Public Health and the current shelter in place ordinance and the Department of Social Services Community Care licensing (CCL). CCL has stated that each licensed child care facility (center or family child care home serving children birth to 12 years) is to make their own determination whether to keep their program open or not. They should make this decision by assessing their business needs, availability & safety of staff and children, customer/parent needs and ensure compliance with any local ordinances in place in their community. Under the Sonoma County shelter in place order child care is an essential business when the facility is providing services that enable employees exempted in the Order (essential workers) to work as permitted. Childcare facilities must operate under mandatory conditions. Among these conditions, children must be cared for in stable groups of 12 or fewer, groups of children may not mix with each other, and providers may not circulate between groups.
The Sonoma County Child Care and Early Care community and the parents and children who rely on these programs are being greatly impacted by the emergency conditions we are facing. Child Care Centers and licensed family child care homes are making the very difficult business decision to stay open or to close. Many of the early learning workforce is in the COVID-19 at risk group and has to weigh their own health risk and the desire/community need to care for our children. Some will stay open at risk to themselves to ensure their business will survive and essential workers can get to work.
The business of caring for our children is critical in our daily lives and its importance has come to light repeatedly in the recent emergencies our community has experienced. Here again as we face the shelter in place order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus the child care community is desperately needed and yet finds itself with not enough resources, direction or support.
We are indeed facing challenging times again in Sonoma County. We can face these challenges as we have in the past together and we will come through the other side. Our small child care centers and home businesses may not make it through this time - It will be critical that we support child care businesses to survive beyond the shelter in place as our access to essential child care slots will be greatly reduced not only in times of crisis but every day.
4Cs is currently soliciting information from all Sonoma County child care providers to understand their status and working closely with our local Emergency Operations Center and Health Care Providers to determine emergency child care needs. Our hope is that our existing programs can care for the children of our emergency workers supplemented by Emergency Pop Up Child Care spaces as needed. It is critical as we move forward that we look towards ways to support our child care businesses and ensure their long term viability. 4Cs will continue to be a resource around child care for our community during this difficult time.