QUINCY — The YMCA of West Central Illinois will help answer a critical need in the community by resuming child care this week in Quincy for school-age children.
YMCA Chief Executive Officer Jim Chamberlain said the service will be available with "limited capacity" for children of essential service employees, based on Gov. J.B. Pritzker's directive, with children of first responders, doctors, nurses and health care workers getting priority.
"Our goal is to start that as early as Wednesday," Chamberlain said. "We don't know if demand is 50 kids or 500 kids. We're putting plans in place to be able to scale up to what the community needs."
The Y has been working alongside West Central Child Care Connection to build community capacity for emergency child care services.
"While shelter-in-place is the best and safest strategy for families, we realize that option isn't available for everyone, and that's who this service is for," WCCCC Executive Director Marla Willard said.
"We need to make sure the doctors, nurses, emergency responders and all employees of essential services have safe and dependable care for their children so they can, in turn, focus on serving our community through this crisis," Chamberlain said.
Guidelines call for the same group of children to be together every day in the same room, with no intermingling and no use of shared spaces.
Rooms are limited to 10 school-age children, instead of the normal 30, so "we're working to figure out what that looks like," Chamberlain said.
Child care initially will be available at the YMCA, but could expand to other locations based on demand.
The YMCA is working with other providers, churches and Quincy Public Schools to make space available for child care with "a plan of having an additional facility by the end of this week or early next week," Chamberlain said.
"As far as at the Y, we only offer school-age childcare, but with our partners we're looking to provide care for toddlers, infants and pre-K," Chamberlain said. "What ages, locations, pricing — we're still working on that."
Chamberlain said staffing will be a limiting factor in the program's growth.
"If anyone is interested in potentially helping out during this time, reach out," he said.
A statewide helpline number will help essential workers connect with available child care. "We're figuring out who is still working to create a referral list. We'll be sharing that as soon as we have it," Willard said.
More information about emergency child care services at the YMCA of West Central Illinois, or working with the program, is available by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. West Central Child Care Connection posts updated information, along with updates from the governor's office, on its Facebook page.