Pandemic’s unsung heroes receive free PPE in Santa Barbara County

Thousands of COVID-19 test kits, along with personal protective equipment (PPE), were distributed today to child care providers across Santa Barbara County.

Children’s Resource & Referral held its 11and distribution event to distribute free pandemic essentials to local child care providers. They said it was an opportunity to thank and support the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

“During this pandemic, our essential workforce backbone has been childcare,” said COO Jacqui Banta. “When the K-12 system was shut down, child care was what we relied on.”

It was early morning with cars and other cars lined up ready to receive their bags full of PPE. Each child care program received N95 masks for adults, masks for children, hand sanitizers and, for the first time, COVID-19 tests. Essentials during this pandemic that many child care providers did not have access to.

“Providers paid for them themselves to get COVID tests, masks and hand sanitizers,” said Children’s Resource & Referral CEO Michelle Graham.

“As child care providers, as you know, we don’t make a lot of money. We do this because we love the children and we love the families in our community, and so for them to be able to provide that to us, it really means a lot,” said Laurel Penk.

Event organizers say it’s a gesture of support and care for child care providers who have worked around the clock throughout this pandemic.

“It’s not just your, you know, your nine-to-three schedule. These home child care providers serve kids at five in the morning, they serve kids on 24-hour cycles, they serve kids on weekends,” Banta said.

Helping not only providers but also families.

“It helps them know their kids are well taken care of and there’s a lot of health and safety in our programs,” Penk said.

The association also had another distribution today in the city of Santa Barbara. In total, the nonprofit was able to distribute 24,000 COVID-19 tests across the county.

Children’s Resource & Referral was able to provide the free tests and PPE with assistance from Santa Barbara County Public Health and the California Department of Social Services.

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