Childcare providers: the essential workers of the essential workers

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When “essential workers” come to mind, front liners such as medical workers and first responders normally pop into one’s head.

But behind the heroes who are fighting to regain normalcy for humanity, there are even more heroes who often go unmentioned, sacrificing time with their own families to take care of someone else’s.

These heroes are the nannies, babysitters and daycares offering services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Childcare and nannies are considered essential, so as long as we can work, we will remain open,” said Kristen Keller, owner of Twinkle Toes Nannies in Jacksonville. “Families who are now working from home still need our help with childcare. We also have a large clientele base that are medical workers, so our nannies are vital during this time. We’re even offering discounted rates to new clients that are essential workers.”

One of Twinkle Toes’ nannies, Rachel Sultzer, has been with her nanny family for the past five years, taking care of a 5-year-old girl and a boy who’s about to turn 3. The children’s father is a lawyer while their mom is a doctor, so Sultzer is needed now more than ever.

“Our day to day activities have definitely changed since both kids are not attending school,” Sultzer said. “Our once jammed-packed days filled with school, play dates, dance, beach days, zoo visits, etc., have come to a screeching halt. Our days are now filled with lots of outdoor time, stroller walks, virtual school and virtual play dates.”

Keller said that the Twinkle Toes has been proactive in updating both, nannies and families, with precautions since the start of the outbreak, asking family members to inform the company when and if they are ill or running fevers.

“Both nannies and families have been very communicative if they are not feeling well and need to suspend services,” Keller said. “We have yet to see any cases be reported but are taking all the measures needed to keep it that way and to be prepared if that changes.”

In the meantime, Sultzer and other nannies are just trying to keep life for their children and themselves as normal as possible.

“The kids have been handling it well and I make it my goal to keep our daily routine consistent,” Sultzer said. “They ask for their friends and it’s hard to explain why we have to keep our distance, but we try to utilize FaceTime to make those connections. At this point I am taking it day by day.”

According to Keller, she, Sultzer and the entire company staff are practicing social distancing, handwashing and sending out CDC recommendations as soon as they are released, stating that “the health of our nannies and families is the number one concern.”

As for Sultzer, she’s completely comfortable with working as an essential employee.

“I am very thankful to still be working full-time, for not only the monetary benefits, but for my own mental health,” she said. “As a single woman, the thought of self-isolating through this pandemic is anxiety inducing, for sure, so I am happy to have my kiddos to keep me busy and needed.”

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