City Offering Micro Pod and Other Child Care Options to Families Impacted by COVID-19 Crisis
A DCHS CONNECT FEATURE
November 6, 2020--Child care continues to be a vital part of the City of Alexandria’s response to families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the rapidly changing needs and preferences of families affected by the crisis, the City is offering a Micro Pod Child Care program as well as other traditional child care arrangements at no cost to eligible working parents while slots are available.
Micro pods, also called “quaranteams,” are informal community-based care structures that originated among families who were hesitant to return their children to large child care spaces. Child care providers and families form small groups or pods who agree to follow strict safety protocols, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, when they are in public or interacting with others outside the pod. Pod members then participate in child care and virtual learning and socialize together in-person in settings where the rules can be relaxed, without increased risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
In Alexandria, these programs provide benefits such as:
- Virtual learning support to parents as well tutoring and homework assistance.
- Community-based links to family support, special education and other resources.
- Technological access support in collaboration with ACPS.
- Child care service hours for parents who work nights or weekends.
- Full-day child care, including school aged children up to age 13, so that families can seek care for multiple children at a single location.
- A safe learning and development environment that meets CDC health and safety guidelines for PPE, cleaning, supplies such as thermometers, and COVID-19 testing.
The program is being funded by CARES Act funding approved by the Alexandria City Council in September, and facilitated by the Emergency Child Care Collaborative (ECCC) in partnership with local licensed or regulated providers.
The funding is also supporting a variety of other child care settings, including traditional child care centers, preschools and family day home programs, to families who have exhausted all other non-group settings and have no other options. The City is committed to equity and has included micro pods as a child care option for families who may not be able to otherwise use this as a child care option.
The initiative is providing these options to 150 children ages 0-13 on a first-come, first-served basis through December 2020. Priority will be given to families with low income or families who are no longer eligible for child care subsidy because they lost employment.
To apply for the micro pod program and other child care options, parents should use the Parent Child Care Needs Registration Form. For more information about the programs available, visit alexandriava.gov/ChildCare.