Priority Child Care Extended To Arizona Grocery Store, Food Bank Workers
Arizona is expanding a program that gives priority access to child care during the pandemic to grocery store and food bank workers.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced last week that those employees would join first responders, critical health care workers and other essential public sector employees that are given a leg up to enroll their children at more than 400 child care facilities throughout Arizona.
More than 3,300 families in those fields have signed up for the program so far, sending their kids to what Ducey calls “Arizona Enrichment Centers.”
And more than 2,300 of those families have qualified for free child care because their household income is less than $65,000 annually.
“Arizona’s food bank and grocery store employees continue to step up to ensure our shelves are stocked and Arizonans have access to critical goods,” Ducey said in a statement. “This expansion is made possible by the continued partnership of child care providers across the state.”
Kelley Murphy, director of early childhood policy at Children’s Action Alliance, said her organization has been advocating that grocery store workers be included in the child care program.
“We were pushing from the very beginning to expand that definition out because as you know, our grocery store workers and folks of that nature, they haven't stopped working, they never stopped working,” Murphy said. “And obviously, it's the thing that allows people like myself who can work from home the ability to do that.”
Murphy said it’s likely that many grocery store and food bank workers will also benefit from the scholarships the state provides to low-income workers who might not otherwise be able to afford child care.
“Our grocery store workers typically aren't aren't super highly paid people. And the cost of child care is very high. And so if we can keep them working and take that burden off of them right now, we're just thrilled about that,” she said.
The program, which is also available to child care workers themselves, is expected to remain until at least July 1, Murphy said.
Families must go online to verify their eligibility enroll their children in the program.