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Some child care providers staying open amid coronavirus closures

Posted: 8:16 PM, Mar 20, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-21 10:54:36-04
Amanda Hazlett and Family

HELENA — While schools around Montana are closed as a precaution against the new coronavirus, some child care providers in the state are keeping their doors open.

In September, Amanda Hazlett started Ms. Amanda’s Village in Townsend – a small group day care, with two staff members and 12 kids. She said she expected an immediate impact once the state announced schools would be closed.

“When Gov. Bullock put out his press release, we knew right away that it was going to be crazy,” she said.

Hazlett’s business is a franchise, operated through the company MyVillage. After the news of the closure came down, company leaders contacted her and their other franchisees to give them advice on how to move forward.

Hazlett said they implemented new health policies, including taking kids’ temperatures at the door and asking those with coughs to stay home. She said they are also increasing their regular cleaning.

MyVillage also offered its providers access to grants to help them continue serving kids through April. The company also offered to help cover some of the costs of any COVID-19 related absences.

Hazlett said some of the families she works with are keeping their kids at home this week. She said she doesn’t currently have any enrolled kids whose parents work in health care, but she expects she may going forward.

“We’re just going to do our best to keep the kids here safe, and to me that includes giving them a place to be when their parents go to work, especially the ones who have to,” she said.

Hazlett also said this type of uncertain situation can be challenging for young kids.

“They don’t really know what’s going on, but they know that their routine is disrupted, they know that their older brothers and sisters can’t go to school,” she said. “Really, as much as you can, model being calm and confident and let your kiddos know that you are there to keep them safe and healthy, and that there’s little things we can do to help.”