Essential workers can get financial aid to help cover the cost of child care amid the coronavirus crisis.


The funding was made by the Cuomo administration, through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.


"Access to affordable and safe child care is a barrier for working parents during the best of times, and even more so during a crisis," Child Care Council of Westchester Executive Director Kathy Halas said. "New York State’s plan will ensure that the workforce that is needed to protect and care for the public during this pandemic has the child care that allows them to continue to serve us all."


When Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed public and private schools in mid-March, his emergency order mandated that local agencies and school districts work together to establish child care for school-age children of essential workers. His order also allowed daycare centers to remain open.


Essential workers have access to care for children up to age 12. Among the jobs deemed essential: first responders; medical, hospital, nursing home, and group home workers; laboratory workers, mental health providers, and more.


Scholarships are available through county-based child care referral nonprofits, including:


Child Care Council of Westchester at childcarewestchester.org or 914-761-3456


Child Care Resources of Rockland at childcarerockland.org or 845-425-0009


To qualify, a family's income needs to be less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that's $78,600. A family of three qualifies if they earn less than $65,160.


Funds are available through May 15, or longer if NY on Pause is extended. Retroactive through April 20, said Kathy Halas,executive director of Child Care Council of Westchester.


Workers can use the aid to pay for child care they already have, or they can get help finding child care through the local child care resource and referral agency.


The governor also announced the CARES funding will also be used to purchase supplies for child care providers statewide who remain open, including masks, gloves, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula and food.


Child Care Resources of Rockland Executive Director Vicki Caramante said child care resource and referral agencies like hers would supply the items. Each such agency is expected to receive grants worth about $600 per provider to purchase and distribute needed items.


"We are hearing programs need cleaning supplies and paper products," Caramante said, "and we are reaching out to ask what other supplies might be required (or) needed."


Halas said that child care is also an essential need, but the industry, like so many others, has suffered a huge financial hit by the coronavirus pandemic.


"It's a scary time for child care as it is for many other industries," Halas said. "Many of them have not had sufficient numbers of children coming so they are really suffering financially."


The scholarships not only will help more workers afford quality care, Halas said, "It is an infusion of revenue into a critically needed industry."