Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued an order designating all grocery store, pharmacy, food processing and distribution workers, law enforcement officers, and nurses as “essential” personnel during this crisis. As a result of this designation, workers in these industries in Maryland can now access free childcare services.

While the first and best option is to keep your children at home to protect them from the virus, if you require childcare services, you can apply to get access to free childcare services by contacting one of the designated facilities for “essential” personnel.

Here’s how to apply for free childcare services:

  • Review the most recent list of available facilities to see if there is childcare near your home or work on the Maryland Department of Education website here.
  • Contact the nearest provider directly to apply for free childcare services.
  • If you don’t see a child care provider that meets your needs, call the trained LOCATE: Child Care Referral Specialists to help you select the best childcare option for your family at 877-261-0060 (toll free).
  • If you need assistance, contact your union representative or call our headquarters at 301-459-3400 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).

Childcare programs have been ordered closed except those designated to serve “essential” personnel. Children attending the State-funded child care programs will be kept an appropriate distance from each other with ratios of a minimum of one teacher and nine children (1:9) for school-age and smaller class sizes for younger children.

While this is a necessary first step to addressing your needs, the state can do more to help our members. We are calling on every local government to designate grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers as “first responders” so you are eligible to get free coverage for all coronavirus treatments and tests, as well as the medicines and personal protective equipment they need to stay safe on the job while they continue to serve our communities.

Send a message to your local government to call on them to designate all food workers as “first responders.” Fill out our online form here to send your message today.

We are also continuing to call on every employer we represent to provide enhanced policies during this crisis, including:

  • Mandating an additional 14 paid sick days to be used without the need to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine order
  • Mandating paid leave of 12 weeks for those in high risk categories such as those over 60, immune-compromised individuals, and those who need to care for sick loved ones
  • Access to free childcare
  • Increased security at all stores, both through store security and increased police patrols
  • Banning any discipline relating to time and attendance
  • Mandatory wiping down of grocery carts, self-scan screens, and credit card touch screens after each use
  • Limiting the number of customers in a store
  • Public address announcements at regular intervals reminding people to maintain a 6-foot distance from employees and other customers
  • Requiring a 6-foot distance be kept from cashiers and other customers in line at check stands
  • Requiring shorter store hours to allow for additional cleaning, stocking, and rest time
  • Mandating that employees be allowed to wear masks and gloves even if they are not sick
  • Requiring employers to provide adequate amounts of masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer
  • Mandating hazard pay with a minimum of at least $2 about the current minimum wage and double time for any overtime hours worked