HOUSTON – Mayor Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced a new resource, findchildcarenow.org, which is dedicated to helping essential workers find quality child care as well as financial assistance.
Collaborative for children, Workforce Solutions, City of Houston and Harris County joined forces with other community partners to provide much-needed child care support during the COVID-19 pandemic. With lead support provided by Houston Endowment, findchildcarenow.org was created to ease the burden for Houston’s essential workers who are required to work, but have struggled to find child care during this difficult time.
The website will connect essential workers with child care centers that have immediate openings and serve as a gateway where parents can apply for child care financial assistance through Workforce Solutions.
“Essential workers have kept our city and county operating since the beginning of this healthcare crisis," Mayor Turner said. “We recognize the need for our valued workers and public servants who must report to work to maintain Houston and Harris County’s essential services to easily find quality child care.”
Mayor Turner said after releasing a citywide survey for employees with children 12 years old or younger, he was overwhelmed with the rapid responses calling for a system to connect parents with child care options for infants, toddlers, children and adolescence.
In addition, all essential employees with children 12 years old and younger are eligible to participate in a first-come, first-serve program once child care and enrollment are confirmed. If a family needs help with financial assistance, they will be contacted by Workforce Solutions within four business days. Workforce Solutions has allocated $10,000 for child care for multiple Houston-area counties, which can provide child care support for at least 3,500 children.
Judge Hidalgo addressed the climb in reported COVID-19 cases across the city, saying she believes there are a lot more people with the virus.
“It’s been a challenge because we don’t have the access to testing materials that they do in other countries, and so we can’t possibly test enough people to have a fully accurate count of who exactly has the virus,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo urged Houstonians to continue to follow the “Stay home, work safe” order, saying that as soon as the pandemic is over, things can return to normal and the economy can recover.
Hidalgo said everyone should be wearing a face covering, except for surgical masks. She also mentioned a system of emergency housing for people dealing with homelessness and have symptoms of the virus. It provides those without a home the resources to stay isolated if necessary.
Another problem Hidalgo mentioned was the spread of COVID-19 within jails. Hidalgo said at least three inmates are positive and three dozen inmates have symptoms. At least 800 inmates are being quarantined, she said.
“This is going to spread like wildfire if we don’t do something to substantially, quickly, of course carefully, but quickly reduce the population in the jail,” she said. “I think history will remember people in two ways-- those who took bold action to ensure that we are stopping the spread of the virus or those who drag their feet, or worse, stood in the way.”