As schools and daycares closed across the state in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic some childcare facilities were allowed to remain open to help essential workers in East Boston and the Commonwealth continue to battle the virus outbreak on the frontlines.
At this time, the East Boston YMCA is the only Emergency Childcare Center open in East Boston, according to East Boston Y Executive Director Joe Gaeta.
“We have the capacity for 40 children at Bremen Street site, and 40 children at Ashley Street site,” said Gaeta. “The ages are infant to 13 year olds.”
Gaeta said the Eastie Y is operating at 50 percent capacity right now so the two sites do have space if essential workers who qualify need it.
“Those who qualify are front line workers including doctors, nurses, health care workers, EMTs, front line grocery workers, USPS and other delivery services,” said Gaeta. “Also, those in DCYF custody could qualify. This service is provided free of charge.”
A portion of this Emergency Childcare Center operation at the Eastie Y is being paid via the City of Boston Resiliency Fund and the other portion is through fundraising efforts by the Eastie Y, said Gaeta.
“We take rigorous safety precautions for child care,” said Gaeta. “We have a screening process each day that includes taking the temperature of staff, the child and parent that is dropping off as well as a list of questions. Staff wear masks at all times, hand washing is done every hour, surface and touch point cleaning is done every hour and another temperature check is done in the middle of the day.”
The Eastie Y also space the children out in rooms and activities to encourage social distancing and keep safe ratios.
“Childcare also has its own entrance and exit to ensure the areas are used only by those in care,” said Gaeta. “Each night our cleaning company does a deep clean.”
So far Gaeta said the program has been going great.
“Being able to help front line workers not worry about childcare has been an honor for the Y,” said Gaeta. “Children are provided with breakfast, lunch and a snack. Our days are structured for School Age children to make sure they are doing their homework assignments and are meeting school milestones. With our Early Education children we provide a structured day full of exploring and learning.”
In the end Gaeta said the Eastie Y is proud to be able to serve Eastie’s front line workers.
“These heroes are making sure that we are taken care of and our needs are met so the least we can do is provide a safe and nurturing space for their children while they are doing so,” said Gaeta. “If you would like to make a donation to the East Boston Y’s COVID relief fund you can text “Lead the Way” to 617-397-5488, all funds raised at this time support our feeding and caring for children programs that are so desperately needed for our community right now.”
If you are an essential worker in need of childcare, Gaeta said residents should email [email protected] to sign up or to see if they qualify. More info can be found at https://ymcaboston.org/emergency-child-care.