Free Childcare Provided for Essential Workers

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

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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