Rainbow Fleet offers info, referrals as schools close due to COVID-19.
Child care is a critical need that impacts first responders’ availability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rainbow Fleet Child Care Resource & Referral is available to help parents find child care providers throughout this critical period. The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced last week that distance learning will replace in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. Working parents are now tasked with finding quality supervision during their regular work shifts for school-age children.
“Child care responsibilities and employment dynamics have changed for many Oklahoma families in light of the current public health situation,” said Carrie Williams, Rainbow Fleet executive director. “Parents may suddenly need a child care facility for their family members who would normally be in school. Our first responders have to take care of the situation at home before they can go to work for fellow Oklahomans in settings like hospitals and fire stations. Rainbow Fleet’s services help them know more about their options.”
Parents can search for child care providers through Rainbow Fleet’s website based on location, cost or schedule. While Rainbow Fleet does not recommend providers, it can help parents become aware of options that fit specific criteria. Staffers can also answer questions in English and Spanish. The agency has connected Oklahoma City’s parents with child care providers since 1972.
“Quality of care is key, even in uncertain times,” said Williams. “Parents have to be aware of what to look for when they choose a child care facility so it’s an ideal fit for their family.”
Five tips from Rainbow Fleet for choosing a child care provider:
- Check that the facility is licensed and read its DHS violations: Rainbow Fleet’s website links directly to Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services (DHS) database with public information about child care facilities. DHS inspects licensed facilities at least three times per year to ensure compliance with hygiene standards and safety best practices. The DHS website lists specific violations at each child care facility.
- Talk with other parents: Read online reviews but also speak with friends and family members about which child care facilities have provided an optimal experience.
- Visit the facility: Tour classrooms and speak with the director. Ask about standards of cleanliness, curriculum and staffing ratios.
- Verify total cost: Be aware of enrollment and supply fees as well as late pick-up charges. Child care subsidies may be available from DHS based on household income.
- Find a second option: A second facility or other caretaker may be needed to accommodate extended shifts or facility closures. Keep a second option in mind as circumstances change.
For more information and local resources, visit www.rainbowfleet.org.