Pam Wells disinfects toys used in her day care program. (Photo provided by Pam Wells)

For CSEA/VOICE home-based child care providers, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the role that providers play in their communities: an irreplaceable anchor for numerous children and families.

“Parents who have to go to work to keep food on the table and pay the bills will need us now more than ever,” said CSEA/VOICE Local 100A President Pam Wells, who runs a day care in Washington County. “As schools close, the nurses, police officers and thousands of other public service workers responding to this crisis will also need child care for their school-age children.”

Wells said she was worried whether home-based child care operators like hers would be able to remain open and whether they would have enough supplies to last through the pandemic.

“We will continue to do our jobs, serve our communities, and take care of our kids, for as long as it is safe to do so,” Wells said. “Nothing matters more than protecting them.”

— Provided by ASFCME

Marisol Hoffmann, shown here at her day care. “I wear this shirt to remind parents that we as child care providers are well informed, well stocked and just about ready for anything. A little humor goes a long way. Relax, parents, we got this. Now, you are free to save the world.” (Photo provided)

Hoffmann: ‘Child care is essential’

WAPPINGERS FALLS — CSEA/VOICE Group Family Child Care Provider Marisol Hoffmann and her staff, who run Feels Like Home, Inc. in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, take care of the kids of parents who deliver vital public services. In her own words, Hoffmann discusses how she and her staff have continued to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic: “I have two Group Family Child Care Programs and a staff of six wonderful providers,” Hoffmann said. “We serve parents who are bankers, nurses, a police officer, two moms who are corrections officers and one single mom who is a New York State Trooper.

My staff and I are here to provide uninterrupted service to those who are among those with the highest risk of exposure to COVID19: essential service workers and first responders. My staff and I consider it a privilege and an honor to care for these children and provide nutritious meals. We are maintaining our usual curriculum and schedule to maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives. We will get through this together.

To all daycare providers, please use all the great resources available to us. My union rep, [CSEA/VOICE Dutchess County Representative] Nikki Johnson, reached out to me as well as my OCFS licensor, Keelie Thomas. They have both been amazing. I also want to give a huge shout-out to the Child Care Council for checking in with me and even distributing much-needed hand sanitizer.

We are all working together and together we will get through this. Better days are ahead. Be well and safe.”

— Jill Asencio

Renee Watson helps a child complete school work. (Photo provided)

Watson: ‘Learning continues at my program’

Renee Watson, a CSEA/VOICE Group Family Child Care Provider in Nassau County, is playing a key role in helping the children in her care continue their education while schools are closed. In her own words, Watson discusses how she is helping provide this vital service:

“My kids [have]parents who don’t have the ability to work from home; they are kids of firefighters, nurses, MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) employees and police officers.

I feel great about being able to help out when so many people, including myself, feel so helpless and concerned. These kids brighten my day. The kids in my care are so happy and filled with joy and they offer so much promise for a better tomorrow.

It’s a pleasure to provide my families with the help they need. For example, many of my children have online distance learning assignments from their schools that we assist them with, and for the few who don’t have specified class work/homework, we provide them with age appropriate worksheets and/or web-based assignments to complete, on a daily basis. Learning continues at my program.”

— Jill Asencio


About Author

Jill Asencio is the statewide communications specialist assigned to CSEA Headquarters in Albany. She is a summa cum laude graduate of The College of Saint Rose and award-winning photo/video journalist and public relations professional. As part of CSEA’s communication team since 2007, she found her passion in labor, advocating for children and New York’s working families. Asencio understands first-hand the value of growing up in a union household and the deep connection unions have in ensuring strong, educated and healthy families.

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