City leaders announce free childcare plan to help those on the front lines of the COVID-19 response

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby on Friday announced the launch of a free Essential Worker Childcare program for first responders, health care workers and essential City of Sacramento employees.

Starting Monday, childcare for 350 children (ages 5 to 12) will be up and running at eight community centers throughout the city. The program will be administered by the City’s Youth, Parks & Community Enrichment Department. The children will be kept in separate groups of 10 or less that will not intermingle.

“I am very proud of our city during this moment in time,” Steinberg said. “We are an organized and committed city, committed to helping everyone through this extraordinary experience known as the coronavirus crisis.”

Parents who wish to enroll their children in the program can register here and search under Essential Worker Child Care, where they can select their preferred location. They will be required to present identification showing they fall into one of three categories (in order of priority): City of Sacramento first responders; front-line health care workers who work in the City of Sacramento; and essential City of Sacramento employees.

The centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a ratio of one caregivers for every 10 children. They will be staffed by licensed and background-checked personnel who normally work in the City’s 4th “R” and START programs.

Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby and Mayor Darrell Steinberg

Ashby, who worked with City staff to create the childcare program, said it will likely expand in the coming weeks if there is enough demand. “We know this doesn’t solve all our problems, but it helps with one big one,” she said.

First responders, health care workers and essential City employees who need care for children younger than 5 years old will be referred to the YMCA, which has 60 paid slots available. Child Action, Inc., the local non-profit childcare referral service, has also set aside 50 vouchers for subsidized childcare in the community for low-income workers.

Childcare is considered an essential service under the state and local Stay at Home orders, and the majority of the daycare operations in Sacramento remain open to support those working in essential sectors. The City childcare will comply with the order issued by Sacramento County Thursday that requires the following:

  • Groups of 12 children or fewer
  • Groups don’t change (meaning the same children stay in the same group each day)
  • Groups will be in separate rooms
  • Providers will stay with one group, solely

The City’s community centers are otherwise closed to the public. Centers that will offer childcare include:

  • Sam Pannell
  • Belle Cooledge
  • George Sim
  • Oak Park
  • Coloma
  • Hart Senior Center
  • Hagginwood
  • South Natomas

For questions related to the program and/or registration, please email

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