Frontline workers in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 may soon get assistance from the state in taking care of their own. Earlier this week, the state rolled out a new program aimed at financing childcare for essential workers throughout the state.


Under the new Essential Worker Child Care program, the state will provide full funding for workers in essential positions ranging from pharmacy and healthcare to essential manufacturing and construction.


“It is basically to pay for their childcare so that essential workers can go to work and continue what they need to do to make sure their community is served,” Workforce Solutions Texoma Deputy Director Marsha Lindsey said. “If the essential worker qualifies, there will be no copay, we would pay 100 percent of their child care.”


This program is in addition to other existing programs through regional workforce boards aimed at subsidizing healthcare for low-income workers. With this new program, workers in qualified fields that make upward of 150 percent of the state median income can receive benefits.


For a family of two, the program will cover those families that make less than $80,000. These benefits max out at $169,000 for a family of 10.


“In this situation, the state does not want essential workers to worry that their children are being taken care of,“ Lindsey said. ”They are taking the whole burden on for those childcare costs.“


The program went live on Wednesday, and in the first 24 hours WST received about 30 applications.


In an average years, Bates said that WST spends about $4 million in childcare subsidies, with about 1,000 children receiving care each day. With this new program, Bates said she would not be surprised if WST spends $5 million in total this year.


For more information on the program, please visit www.workforcesolutionstexoma.com.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.