A community effort by a dozen public and nonprofit partners is opening childcare spaces for children of essential healthcare workers and first responders in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. So far, more than 575 spots have been made available for infants, toddlers and school-aged children at sites across Sarasota County. Spearheaded by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (SMH), these organizations identified the need for childcare when a survey of hospital employees reported that more than 1,400 children needed somewhere to go while school campuses and other private daycare facilities are closed due to the pandemic. 

A task force was created to identify opportunities to open safe and regulated childcare facilities. Included in the conversations were the Florida Department of Health, Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, SKY Family YMCA, Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, Florida Center for Early Childhood, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County and other critical partners. All facilities comply with appropriate guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state licensing agencies. Essential healthcare and public safety employees can contact the following organizations directly to find availability. More spaces and organizations are being identified to expand capacity. 

The Florida Center Starfish Academy

Infant to age 1

Sarasota and North Port

Contact Susan Carney, (941) 402-5394, susan.carney@thefloridacenter.org   

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County

Ages 6 to 12

Lee Wetherington Club, Sarasota

Registration is open at www.bgcssarasota.com or contact Dawn Page, (941) 366-3911, dpage@bgcsarasota.com

SKY Family YMCA

Ages 2 to teen

Port Charlotte, Englewood and Venice

Register online at SWFLYMCA.org

Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County

Infant, toddlers and preschool children 0-5 years

Sites throughout the county

Contact for daily availability: informationrequest@childcareconnectionsarasota.org

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