Free Childcare Provided for Essential Workers

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Free Childcare Provided for Essential Workers
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Source: United Way of Santa Barbara County

The Emergency Child Care Initiative for Santa Barbara County (ECCI) will offer emergency no-cost child care services for critical health care providers, first-responders and essential food distribution employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Employers of these workers including hospitals and essential service providers whose staff need child care are encouraged to contact Eileen Monahan, Project Manager for the initiative, at (805) 451-8720 or 

In response to the urgent need to provide safe child care facilities for critical health care providers and essential food distribution employees in Santa Barbara County, several local philanthropic foundations have joined together to support this effort, led by Jane and Paul Orfalea/the Audacious Foundation and the Natalie Orfalea Foundation, with Lou Buglioli and be administered through United Way of Sant Barbara County.

It is imperative that we support those workers who are both protecting our health and providing what we need in terms of food and other vital items so we can stay at home,” said Steve Ortiz, President and CEO of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “The only way we are going to get through this difficult time is if we can depend on doctors, nurses and other essential workers.  With the current school year cancelled, the most pressing need of these front-line workers is child care,” said Ortiz.

“These kids are also very likely stressed and anxious about the health of their parents, families and themselves,” said Eileen Monahan, child care expert and project Manager on behalf of United Way of Santa Barbara County. “We need to ensure that not only are they safe and healthy but that they are also emotionally cared for, in this unsettling time,” said Monahan.

It is a priority of this initiative that children of these essential workers are cared for in safe facilities with attention to their health, wellbeing and social emotional needs during this crisis.  Child care providers are especially trained for COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures which include appropriate distancing and sanitation.

In less than a week since the program began, child care services have been expanded for Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara , Lompoc Community Hospital in Lompoc , and Community Health Centers in Santa Maria. 

Again, employers of essential business workers may contact Eileen Monahan to request child care support at  (805) 451-8720 and the initiative email , on behalf of the United Way of Santa Barbara County. 

The Audacious Foundation and Natalie Orfalea Foundation invite other funders to join them in this critical, countywide effort. The Fund has begun with $500,000, but the needs are escalating quickly. Contributions can be directed to the United Way.  If you would like to contribute toward the Emergency Child Care Fund, please contact Steve Ortiz, President & CEO, United Way of Santa Barbara County at

To provide assistance to individuals and families as well as organizations actively supporting members of the community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also donate to the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort, a partnership between the Santa Barbara Foundation, the United Way of Santa Barbara County, the Hutton Parker Foundation and other leaders in philanthropy. Please for more information.

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a-1587164992 Apr 17, 2020 04:09 PM
Free Childcare Provided for Essential Workers

I hope they're doing this the right way and not just finding large spaces to accommodate larger groups of kids...I hope they're breaking the kids into smaller groups in smaller spaces, and separating kids by WHERE their parents work to avoid further spread. Please let there be someone with a brain running this program...

a-1587249386 Apr 18, 2020 03:36 PM
Free Childcare Provided for Essential Workers

United Way is a great organization that is a non profit. For one thing, non profit does not mean non salaried. It is well documented that most of the donations that go to this organization go to supporting the organization ,not much goes to an actual specified cause. I'm surprised at the benefactors who are pretty savvy getting behind this , but everything has become so political. As far as the intention of the "concept" large scale group service is not compliant with social distancing, this is why the daycares who are set up to do this and do it well are closed. A better solution if one of the parents are not able to work from home at this time or a relative is not available is to bring in a private nanny. They are essential workers and work in the family's homes where there is more control over hand washing and not getting exposed , remember they are finding allot of asymptomatic carriers. This cuts down transmission to and from another family by not having the child/children going elsewhere that can pass something possibly from their house as a direct effect of the essential parent's occupational exposure.
This is the last group you would want to get together in terms of comunal spread! This model as proposed is not sound, there is no efficient or safe mechanism for delivery. If someone is looking for a tax write off the money would go much further donated directly to pre schools that are barely hanging on with all this disruption that does not have a huge non profit as a middle man or possibly use local nanny agencies that can guide you in placing an in home nanny and have prescreened all their people.

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