Arizona Offers Free Child Care For Low-Income First Responders, Health Care Workers
Low-income Arizona parents who work as first responders, critical health care workers and essential public sector employees will have access to free child care beginning Monday.
And all parents with key jobs will at least have priority access to child care at dozens of what Gov. Doug Ducey is calling “Arizona Enrichment Centers.”
“Through support including child care assistance and financial resources, we can help alleviate some of the stress and concerns that families serving on the front lines are facing,” the governor said in a statement.
Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman first announced the program on March 24, touting that some schools would be repurposed as day cares for the children of those critical workers.
While some schools are participating, most of the dozens of centers who applied to participate through the Department of Economic Security are existing child care centers.
Kathy Murphy, director of early childhood policy at Children’s Action Alliance, said the centers must be licensed or certified by the state.
“That might include a school district program. It might include any kind of regular Child Care program, so center based,” Murphy said. “There's some home based providers that would qualify here. And they could be faith based programs — anything that falls under that licensure category or the certification category.”
Facilities must also agree to follow CDC guidelines for sanitation and the coronavirus.
Parents with household incomes of $65,000 or less will be eligible for free child care, paid for by the state’s child care and development fund, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Regular rates, depending on the center, will apply for other families, but they will have priority over parents who don’t work those essential jobs.
It’s unclear exactly how many spots are available. But Murphy said that many child care centers have seen lower turnout as many parents keep their kids at home, meaning there could be plenty of room to go around.