These Are The States Offering Free Child Care For Emergency Workers During Coronavirus Outbreak

Several states are now offering free child care for emergency workers who are on the front lines of combating the coronavirus outbreak.

Three states—Colorado, Minnesota and Vermont—announced plans Wednesday to provide child care services to essential personnel, including doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and grocery workers.

"It is absolutely critical that, at a time when we need our first responders and health care workers and support staff the most, people aren't forced to stay home simply because their kid doesn't have a place to go during the day," Colorado Governor Jared Polis said during a press conference.

Many states have announced plans to expand child care services, especially for emergency workers, though not necessarily free of charge. In Michigan and Maryland, governors have signed orders to provide temporary relief from some regulatory restrictions regarding child care services and to facilitate the use of certain properties for those services. Ohio will soon allow hospitals, churches, youth organizations and existing day care providers to apply to open short-term care centers for the children of emergency workers.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the nation has exceeded 7,000, with at least 97 deaths, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and last week President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to combat the virus.

Amid the pandemic, more than 40 states have shut down schools to help slow the virus' spread. Many of the closures are temporary for now, but some states, like California and Colorado, have said that it's possible schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year.

Here's a list of every state that will be offering free child care services for emergency workers.


Governor Polis is working with schools, existing day care providers and the Colorado Department of Human Services to create a system of emergency child care for the 80,000 emergency workers who have young children under 8. The services would cover health care providers and staff, public safety officers and staff supporting critically at-risk populations.

"Educators will be paid an enhanced rate that recognizes their extra effort and commitment to serving our community in a time of need," according to the order.


Governor Tim Walz signed an order instructing closed schools to continue to provide care for children of emergency workers who are "critical to the response of COVID-19." That includes law enforcement officials, grocery store clerks and public works personnel.

Under the order, "schools are directed to provide care to, at a minimum, district-enrolled students aged 12 and under who are children of emergency workers. In providing this care, schools must practice hygiene and social distancing best practices."


The state is developing a plan that would reimburse private child care centers for providing services for essential workers. Schools will also become day care centers but only for children 6 or older. Essential personnel who would be covered include grocery store workers, health care workers, first responders, criminal justice personnel, public health employees, child care workers and some state employees.

"Even as we ask the public to step back to help slow the spread of this virus, we are asking others, including our educators and child care providers, to step in and provide a critical service so those who are on the front lines of our response can continue to care for the sick, protect the public and manage this evolving challenge," Governor Phil Scott said in a statement.


Governor Jay Inslee and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction have asked school districts to provide free child care for health care workers and emergency responders. The request came after Inslee shuttered schools in the state for at least a month.

"We are really asking people to consider the schools as the child care center of last resort, and we want to make sure the priority of that is for health care workers," Inslee said. "Because we simply cannot have nurses leaving hospitals when they become deluged with patients to take care of child care. Same thing with first responders."

child care services coronavirus
Children, some wearing face masks as a preventive measure, pick up free lunch at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia, on March 16 after schools in the area closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many states are now offering expanded child care services for emergency workers battling the virus' spread. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

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