Education Spotlight: Merced County connecting parents with quality child care providers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

We trust child care providers to look after our little ones. Over the last 18 months, these providers have taken on a new set of responsibilities.

Landon Burke learned how Merced County is supporting these providers and connecting parents with useful resources.

Landon: How have these last 18 months been for you?

Lorena Briano: Very, very busy, I'm sure, as it has for many others as well. But I think, you know, with a pandemic, it's just been very difficult. We've had so many changes, so many unknowns, about the process that a family childcare provider needs to take, that a private center needs to take, to keep children safe. Do we accept the children? Do we not accept the children? Do we social distance? Do we wear masks? Now we have the whole vaccine. Who needs a vaccine? I need supplies for cleaning. I'm short-staffed. So it's just been really busy. For us, for the R&R, while the providers are dealing with all of these, we are fielding the calls and trying to provide some support during that process, which is why it's busy for us as well, not only answering the questions but also maintain the state to find out when your work, what regulations do we need to follow.

Sharon Salinas: For example, if a family member or a child were to get COVID and come into our facilities, we would have to work with the CDC, licensing, they call us daily, and work with us to make sure that you know we're following all protocol. We spend a lot of time ensuring that the facilities are disinfected and sterile enough for children to come into them.

Landon: What is something that you guys want parents to know?

Sharon: That we are doing our very best and taking out all the stops to keep your children safe. I feel sorry for parents sometimes because they're having to follow this protocol along with us, and they have their jobs. They're worried about their children getting COVID. Are they safe? You know, are we doing our part? And then when we have to say "oh your child has a cough" or, then they have to find, they have to leave their child home and it can be an inconvenience for them.

Lorena: In terms of parents, I would like them to know that, you know, as the childcare resource and referral agency. We are one helping the family childcare providers and the center staff to maintain safety protocols. We're providing all the PPE equipment that is needed to keep their children safe. We are also helping our family childcare providers and our center staff with training on, you know, health and safety protocols related to COVID. But aside from assisting the family childcare provider and the center staff, we also are, as you know, we're here to assist the parents in choosing high-quality childcare. We've had several parents in the middle of COVID who were left without a provider because the provider had to close for a 14-day, ten-day period, and we just want to let the providers know that we are here to assist them in the search for quality childcare.
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