Support Our Youth and Families June 2020 - Page 4

ARLINGTON CHILD CARE SUMMIT CONTRIBUTES TO INNOVATIVE ONLINE CHILDCARE SEARCH TOOL On March 30, 2020, The Best Place for Kids™ launched the FIND! Child Care Search Tool to support Tarrant County residents and essential workers in need of childcare for kids 0-12 years of age as a part of the community response to COVID-19. While this tool has been a long-stated need and effort within the community, it was a topic of discussion at the inaugural Arlington Child Care Summit last September. Hosted by the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation and championed by Deputy Mayor Pro Tempore Victoria Farrar-Myers, the summit highlighted strategies to increase the access to and quality of childcare in Arlington and surrounding areas. When the COVID-19 pandemic made childcare scarce this spring, partners The Best Place for Kids™ and Child Care Associates took the lead on developing an online childcare search tool in just a couple of days. “We have long-envisioned a platform like FIND! In fact, Fort Worth’s Rep. Craig Goldman sponsored a bill to get a statewide tool funded during the last legislative session with our goals in mind. That bill did not pass, but because we had done the research on what our working parents needed and what would serve our workforce, when COVID hit, we were able to fast-track it locally to meet immediate needs in Tarrant County and the longerterm goals of The Best Place for Kids™,” said program director Cheraya Peña. As the FIND! tool was established, a coordinated effort of local early childcare mentors (who were also working from home due to stay at home orders) sprang into action to call all licensed childcare centers in Tarrant County to identify which centers were operational and the availability at those centers. The data received from over 1,200 hours of calls was used to build the initial availability information in the FIND! search tool in Tarrant County. On March 30, essential service workers could immediately locate childcare options across Tarrant County that fit their specific childcare needs. More than 7,700 childcare slots were available in nearly 700 licensed facilities, including several providers who attended the Arlington Child Care Summit. As of early May 2020, there are more than 8,600 available slots in Tarrant County for children 0-12 years old listed on the FIND! search tool, with over 2,000 available slots in Arlington. “THE PARTICIPATION OF ARLINGTON CHILDCARE PROVIDERS IN THE BEST PLACE FOR KIDS™ FIND! CHILD CARE SEARCH TOOL MEANS THAT ARLINGTON FAMILIES CAN EASILY FIND CHILDCARE CLOSE TO HOME AND WORK FOR OUR ESSENTIAL WORKERS. I AM PROUD OF THE WORK THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED BY OUR PASSIONATE CHILDCARE INDUSTRY LEADERS.” — ARLINGTON MAYOR JEFF WILLIAMS