oday, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto has received authorization from the Province of Ontario to open another licensed child care centre to provide care for the children of essential and critical service workers. Like the first seven centres, this new centre is in an existing City-run licensed child care facility and staffed by City of Toronto child care workers.
The new child care centre is now open and is located at Blake Street Early Learning & Child Care Centre, 84 Blake St. in the East York community.
Emergency child care services are reserved exclusively for children of essential and critical service workers identified in the Province of Ontario’s “List of Workers Eligible for Emergency Child Care,” who have no other alternatives. The safest option for families is to have children remain at home, if possible.
A complete list of workers eligible for emergency child care, which was updated on April 17, is available at ontario.ca/page/child-care-health-care-and-frontline-staff.
Funded by the Province of Ontario, this licensed child care service is available at no cost to qualifying families, for children under age 12.
Child care spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. Once eligible workers complete and submit the online application, they will be contacted by Children’s Services staff if space is available.
For details on eligibility and application, visit toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/covid-19-child-care-for-essential-workers.
Since launching the online application form on March 28, the City has received more than 1,128 applications, contacted and offered a placement to 757 families, and placed more than 342 children in care. Sixty-seven per cent of the applications were from heath care related workers (including Toronto Public Health and Long-Term Care) and first responders.
The City will continue to monitor demand for the service and prioritize child care space for front-line health care workers and first responders. If required, the City will work closely with the Province to expand the service.
Because physical distancing is difficult when caring for young children, additional measures are being taken in consultation with Toronto Public Health and Occupational Health and Safety to maintain a healthy and safe environment. Precautions include daily screening of children and staff, increased disinfection, reduced group sizes, limiting the number of people in the centres, and use of surgical masks when a two-metre distance cannot be maintained. Children’s Services continues to work with Toronto Public Health for ongoing reviews of all emergency child centre practices.
Service at Jesse Ketchum Early Learning and Child Care Centre resumed on May 14 after service was suspended due to a COVID-19 outbreak. A phased approached was taken to reopening the centre, opening only three rooms at the time, with the last room open on Monday, May 25. Prior to resuming service, the division worked with Toronto Public Health to review health and safety policies and procedures and incorporate updated guidelines from the Ministry of Health. All emergency child care staff members have been sent for testing for COVID-19.
“I continue to be impressed with how quickly staff worked with our provincial partners to implement and expand emergency child care service for the frontline heroes doing vital work during this pandemic. The infection prevention protocols we have in place in our emergency child care centres not only protect children, their families and staff, but will help us in the future when we are ready to open our child care system again.”
– Mayor John Tory
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