Oklahoma Baptist churches have a new opportunity to serve amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the announcement of schools moving to distance learning and an increased number of daycares closing, the Oklahoma Human Services Director Justin Brown is asking the faith community to open their doors to care for children of first responders and health care workers.

“The child care industry is a vital element in a community’s ability to respond in times of stress, and providers play a critical role in addressing community health issues like COVID-19,” Brown said in a letter to church leaders. “Our state’s first responders, including nurses and doctors, need access to these services like never before in order to remain available to serve their communities.”

In a state of emergency, such as COVID-19, facilities are exempt from childcare licensing for up to 10 weeks.  In the current state of emergency, Brown said, “The COVID-19 crisis has uncovered many needs that once did not exist. To that point, Oklahoma Human Services has identified a high need for additional child care resources throughout our state. We are turning to you, our partners in the faith community, for assistance.”

In an effort to partner with the faith community, Brown is asking for churches to respond. “Would your church consider opening a temporary child care center to specifically serve the children of first responders?” he asked. “Do you have space inside your facility for others in the community to operate a temporary child care center? Can you provide resources and supplies for other child care centers so they can keep their doors open?”

The current crisis falls on the heels of Governor Stitt’s new initiative, Be A Neighbor, a web-based platform identifying non-profits meeting needs in their community. Director Brown has asked for churches serving as an Emergency Childcare Facility to identify as a neighbor on BeANeighbor.org.

For more information on how your church can serve the community by providing childcare to those fighting the virus on the frontlines, please contact Mandi at DHS by emailing mandi.mays@okdhs.org for information on how to get started.