Several philanthropic organizations have come together to provide funding for emergency child care services amid the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic

The Emergency Child Care Initiative for Santa Barbara County includes the Jane and Paul Orfalea Foundation, the Audacious Foundation, the Natalie Orfalea Foundation with Lou Buglioli and the United Way of Santa Barbara County

The funding is intended for critical health care workers, first responders and essential food distribution employees.

The collaborative has helped set up one site in Santa Barbara and one in Lompoc, and another is in the works for Santa Maria.

“These three sites will provide over 100 spaces for the children of essential workers,” said Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of the United Way of Santa Barbara County. “Some child care providers across the county have agreed to be emergency child care sites, and we are keeping in touch with those sites so that we can match them with groups of essential employees needing care.”

Grants will be offered through the funding collaborative to match contributions from employers and other partners involved in each emergency child care project.

In addition to the funding, the initiative provides individual assistance to help match essential employers with appropriate child care.

“Leaders in philanthropy are stepping up to meet the needs of our community in this difficult time in so many ways,” Ortiz said. “This crisis requires the full engagement of our most essential workforce. We simply must make sure that their children are cared for in a safe environment while they keep us healthy and safe.”

He said the objective of the initiative is for children to be cared for in safe facilities with “attention to their health, well-being and social-emotional needs” during this crisis. 

A steering committee will review applications to determine funding. 

Child care workers will be trained by medical personnel on how to properly screen children for COVID-19 symptoms.

“The need for child care among front-line workers is real and immediate, and we must be ready for additional child care spaces as the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak continue to grow,” said Eileen Monahan, who is helping lead the project. 

Employers of essential workers or child care providers who want to help can contact Monahan at Those who want to contribute to the Emergency Child Care Fund, contact Ortiz at

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.