Gov. Mike DeWine’s order that only daycare centers with Temporary Pandemic Child Care license can remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak goes into effect today. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Coronavirus: Facilities in Clark, Champaign counties open for pandemic daycare

Finding childcare is among many issues presented by the efforts to slow the coronavirus in Ohio.

That challenge grew this week with the announcement childcare centers must operate under a pandemic license to remain open beginning today.

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The YMCAs in Clark and Champaign counties are both licensed to remain open for childcare, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website lists a handful of others that also have obtained the license.

Both licensed providers in Clark County are in Springfield — Town and Country ECE (which is operated by the YMCA) at 2430 Van Buren Avenue and Little Sprouts at 413 E. Home Road.

In Champaign County, the YMCA in Urbana is joined by Little Strength Christian Learning Center in Westville, Lulu’s Lullaby and Theresa’s Gingerbread House in Urbana and Kelsie Sue’s Playhouse in Mechanicsburg.

The state also lists one Springfield home approved as a childcare site.

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The state mandates childcare facilities limit six children to a room, something Champaign County YMCA CEO Paul Waldsmith said his facility was already equipped for from a personnel standpoint.

However, they have had to rework parts of the building to abide by social distancing guidelines.

“They really want given spaces to not have too many kids, and they want the kids to have their own distinct space along with their instructors just so there’s more social distancing,” he said. “We have one wing of our building that is for preschool and another wing that’s for infants and toddlers, and in those rooms, we’ve had to get a little creative and divide up spaces more than we have in the past, but it’s not that big of a change. It’s reasonably close.”

The Champaign County YMCA’s daycare director, Sonya Stonerock, said it normally has about 110 children in daycare but was set to have about half that many when the new regulations go into effect today.

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To qualify to take their children to a pandemic child care provider, parents must fill out two forms that can be found at the Ohio Jobs and Family Services website, They are also available on the Champaign County YMCA’s site.

Children of essential workers (including those who work in medicine, health and safety professions) have priority for pandemic childcare, but remaining spots are open to the rest of the public.

“We’re still taking as many as we can,” Stonerock said. “We’ve been approved for 149.”

However, Waldsmith pointed out Gov. Mike DeWine has previously encouraged parents to keep children home if possible, and Waldsmith said parents who are not working now because of the state measures previously taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus are not eligible.

“For instance, let’s say that one parent is a nurse and the other person is a school teacher,” Waldsmith said. “Well, that family would not qualify here because the school teacher is already at home — even though he or she’s got an important position.”

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