Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) is rapidly collaborating with public and private childcare providers across Washtenaw County to mobilize in response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s most recent call to action. Late last night on March 18, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-16 requesting intermediate school districts to coordinate and provide emergency childcare for employees responsible for essential operations during the COVID-19 crisis. The call to provide disaster relief childcare centers comes in light of feedback from essential service staff who cannot work their shifts because they lack safe childcare. WISD is working in close cooperation with Child Care Network, Washtenaw County’s Regional Resource Center for childcare needs.
“Essential workers,” as outlined by the executive order, are defined as: Health care workers, home health workers, direct care workers, emergency medical service providers, first responders, law enforcement personnel, sanitation workers, childcare workers, correctional workers, postal workers, public health employees, key government employees such as child protective services and foster care workers, court personnel, and others providing key infrastructure to Michiganders such as utilities, mass transit, manufacturing, and groceries.
“As the home of two major health systems, Washtenaw County plays a significant role in caring for the health of our region and state,” said WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel. “Washtenaw ISD is committed to doing everything we can to support our community and ensure our most essential workers have safe, high-quality childcare so they can do their jobs without worrying about the safety of their children.”
The executive order encourages intermediate school districts to support the opening of disaster relief childcare centers as necessary to meet the needs of their communities. WISD is working with Child Care Network to assist existing childcare centers so they can either shift their current service model to care for children of essential workers or mobilize to re-open for this purpose. WISD and Child Care Network are also monitoring the demand for childcare services if the need arises to establish additional emergency childcare centers to serve those outlined in the Governor’s executive order, including critical staff at Michigan Medicine, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, Huron Valley Ambulance, local city and county government offices, local grocery stores and more.
“Many public and private childcare centers have already closed in response to COVID-19, so we are moving as quickly and as carefully possible so we can re-open safe, sanitized, and fully-staffed facilities for the essential workers who need this service the most,” shared Alan Oman, WISD’s Executive Director of Early Childhood Programs. “We’re fortunate to have strong partners and relationships with centers across Washtenaw County, and they are reaching out to their staff to meet this need.”
If you are a licensed childcare provider in Washtenaw County, please complete this survey in order for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) office to monitor existing capacity of local childcare providers.
If you are an essential worker as identified by Governor Whitmer’s executive order and in need of childcare, complete this survey here and you will be connected to someone in our community to help you find care.