By Carla Heppert | Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Children and Youth Partnership, Working Through Child Care Choices During COVID-19

Along with many other challenges that all of us are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, families with children of all ages are going back to work before many of Dare County’s early care and education centers, family child care homes and school-age summer camps are ready to reopen.  While a few licensed child care centers and homes have remained open for essential personnel during the pandemic, other programs are waiting to make safe decisions about when they will be opening their doors again. 

Who to call for more information:

Children & Youth Partnership for Dare County (CYP)- 252-441-0614- CYP has a Child Care Resource and Referral specialist who can provide more information about the licensed programs in Dare County and share other resources to help you learn about alternatives. If you are a local family affected by this situation, developing a plan for the care of your child while you work is now more important than ever before. 

Need help paying for child care:

Dare County Department of Social Services (DSS)- 252-475-5536- North Carolina uses a combination of funds to provide subsidized child care services to eligible families. In Dare County, the local Department of Social Services administers the Subsidized Child Care Program. The amount the state pays for child care depends on the family’s situational criteria, the family’s income, and the cost of the care provided.

You may be eligible to receive child care assistance if one or more of these situations apply to your family:

  • You are working or attempting to find work;
  • You are in school or a job training program;
  • Your child is receiving child protective services,
  • Your child has developmental needs;
  • If your family is in crisis.

To receive additional information or to begin the process of applying for child care subsidy, contact Yvette Pollock at or 252-475-5536.


Where to start in your search for child care:

If your child is enrolled in a center or home that is closed due to the pandemic, start by asking your center’s director what they suggest for back-up care until the program can safely reopen. 

If your child is not already enrolled in an early care and education center or home or being cared for by friends or family that you trust, you can begin making a plan by speaking with your employer about your need for child care.  Your church community, co-workers, family, friends and neighbors all may have ideas and helpful suggestions for finding care for your child. Where and how have they found care? Do they know someone who cares for children and do they trust them?  

Our community relies on the social connections that strengthen small towns everywhere. The more people you speak to about the caregiver, the clearer your decision may become. Some things to think about as you begin your search:

  • Your weekly budget
  • The number of hours/what shifts you’ll need care
  • How far you’ll travel for appropriate care
  • Care that can accommodate the ages of your children and their developmental needs is also essential.


Things to look for as you search for child care:

The health and safety of your child when in someone else’s care is extremely important. Licensed school-age summer camps, early care and education centers and family child care homes are accountable to a long list of health and safety criteria in order to remain open. 

If you choose a family member, friend or neighbor to provide care, there are many safety-related factors to consider on your own, including:

  • How many other children are being cared for and what are their ages?
  • Does the caregiver know CPR, basic first aid, and know how and when to ask for help?
  • Are there outdoor hazards such as pools or unfenced yards, or indoor hazards like medications, cleaning supplies, and electrical cords within reach?
  • Will other family members or friends be in the home or visiting, do you know them, and are you comfortable with them being present with your children?

Getting very clear about your concerns for your child when someone else is watching them and communicating those upfront is a good strategy for ensuring a strong relationship between you and your provider and a higher quality of care for your child.  


Other things to look for:

  • There should be age appropriate toys and safe sleeping arrangements, particularly for infants.
  • Verify that hand-washing and hygiene practices are being followed
  • Agree to communicate regarding any symptoms of illness.
  • Agree about expectations regarding food and snacks, a daily routine, discipline, travel, using car seats, and screen time.
  • Be sure caregivers are aware of any allergies and how to reach you at all times. 

If you are considering leaving your child(ren) in the care of a teenager for a lengthy period of time or thinking about whether your child is ready for self-care, these same questions must be answered to help you determine whether or not they are ready to handle essential responsibility for their safety, health and welfare.


The Child Care Resource & Referral program at CYP is available to help brainstorm with you about your child care options. They can also help you explore the possibility of opening your own family child care home. 

Due to operating remotely for now, the best way to contact CYP is to email or call 252-441-0614 and leave a message for a return call. There are also many online resources that provide guidance for evaluating child care options for your family.  For more information, visit for links to many helpful resources.


Making the best choice possible will provide you with the peace of mind that your child is safe, so you can focus on your work and providing for your family.