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Child Care Matters — ELCHC CEO Gordon L. Gillette

Child care matters

We are all well aware now of the important roles that health care, law enforcement, grocery store, home delivery and government workers play in these extremely challenging times. An enabling force for these workers is child care. Child care businesses are providing essential services for our most-needed workers. In many cases, our frontline workers can only perform their important roles if they have a child care facility for their children while they work.

At the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, we administer state and federal funding for subsidized child care for low-income families through the School Readiness Program. We contract with 881 providers in Hillsborough County in the program. We also administer the State’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Program, serving 74 percent of Hillsborough’s 4-year-old population.

We want to thank child care providers across our county for the amazing work they do to enable first responders and essential employees to work. Child care businesses are facing several difficult decisions during this unprecedented time — from staying connected with their families to maintaining and paying their employees.

We are working this week to pilot a new program to provide three months of childcare subsidies for first responders. Additional money in the federal stimulus bill is available to provide first responders’ families with subsidized child care. This pilot program also provides a bonus for child care providers that care for the children of first responders.

In these challenging times, it’s important for us to recognize and reward first responders, and the unsung first responders — child care workers and businesses.

Gordon L. Gillette

Gillette is the chief executive officer of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County.

Tuesday, April 14 — Tampa Bay Times