The City of Kingston has begun accepting applications for Emergency Childcare for School-Age Children, partnering with the province and closely collaborating with local childcare providers in order to do so.
As Ontario schools pivot to remote learning as part of measures aimed at limiting the surge of Omicron cases, the targeted service offered by the Ministry of Education is meant to accommodate time eligible students would normally be at school or before or after school programs.
Children born on or before December 31, 2017 are eligible for the program, with priority given to workers deemed essential by the province who cannot work from home.
Five providers are offering childcare at seven different locations throughout the city, with varied capacity depending on location, licensing and age of children.
For example, service providers can generally offer more spaces for students aged 6-12 than they can for any 4 and 5 year olds.
Services will be offered at the Boys and Girls Club on Bagot, two Unity Childcare locations, two YMCA locations, Garderie Educative De Kingston, and Les Petit Amis for military families.
All of the centres are conducive to learning, outfitted with wifi and quiet spaces for independent work.
Heather Mitchell, Kingston's Manager of Child Care and Early Years, says early child care educators have been working tirelessly through the pandemic, and deserve to be commended for consistently stepping up.
"These folks haven't missed a beat and their commitment, their dedication and the fact that they've again stepped up to this challenge, we can't thank them enough," Mitchell said.
"Their commitment is unwavering to us and we really appreciate the support that they're offering the community, and the children and the families."
Between all the service providers there are approximately 150-170 spaces available for eligible students.
Mitchell said on Thursday afternoon that about 125 applications have already been received with application forms being made available and accepted as of Wednesday morning.
The service providers are prepared to offer child care to students as of January 10, with remote education slated to last until at least January 17, with the potential for extension.
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News