RANTOUL — Multicultural Community Center has been granted from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) a license to operate as an emergency child care center to serve children of priority essential workers with strict COVID-19 guidelines for employees, parents and children.
Executive Director Martha Gonzalez said with the guidance of DCFS, Public Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the center created COVID-19 procedures and strategies for parents and employees to reduce the spread of the virus. The teacher/child ratios are significantly reduced, and classrooms will never be combined.
“As any other businesses during this emergency, we are not allowing any visitors. Employees will have the appropriate COVID-19 protection to work with the children,” Gonzalez said.
She said since the governor’s shelter-in-place order, the center has been in continuing communication with the parents and children to provide the support they need.
“Teachers have been providing online classes to the children. The teachers get to see the children through the screen and keep them engaged by singing a song together. Teachers are also reading books to them so they continue to learn, even if it has to be done virtually. Parents and children need to know that we are here to support them,” Gonzalez said.
The majority of MCC parents are priority essential workers who never stopped working, and after the center closed, they had to leave their children with different people, in some cases too many children in one household or under the care of an older sibling. Or parents are forced to pay unreasonable amounts to a baby sister who most likely does not have the appropriate qualifications and child first-aid training to respond in case of an emergency.
“We know that the community needs child care services to be able to go to work, put food on the table, and pay their bills,” Gonzalez said.
She credited those parents who are in the middle of a battle working in food production, hospitals and many other areas that are essential for communities.
“They deserve to have a safe, licensed, organized place to take their children while they work,” Gonzalez said. “During the emergency, MCC will provide all supplies for children such as diapers, wipes and food during the time they are under care at the center. Parents will not have to pay any co-payments regardless of their income.
MCC will continue to follow the curriculum, teach the children and “make sure they are enjoying their time at MCC,” Gonzalez said. “Since schools are closed, we have the possibility to enroll some school-age children according to the needs of the parents. School-age children who will be attending our center will be academically supported by our teachers to get their long distance school work completed.”
If any prioritized essential worker needs MCC free services, they can contact the center at (217)892-4466 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.