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Daycare center offers free childcare for healthcare and other essential workers

Tierra Encantada is offering free childcare for families of healthcare and essential workers. It was the lifesaver the family needed.

Daycare is a second home for children away from home.

But what happens when it shuts down because of COVID-19? That is the predicament Joy Hasseler was navigating. The first week of the shelter in place order, her children’s daycare center closed. Then, the nanny the family secured could no longer work due to health concerns. She had to find a substitute, fast. Hasseler is an obstetrician and gynecologist.

“You worry about who is going to take care of your kids. I had a lot on my plate trying to safely care for the pregnant women in the community. At that point I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out what to do with my kids,” she said. “I have kids, ages two, four and six. So, staying at home wasn’t an option for me."

Hasseler said one of her  colleagues told her the Spanish Immersion Daycare,

Tierra Encantada, was offering free childcare for families of healthcare and  essential workers. It was the lifesaver her family needed.

“Within a four day turn around they volunteered to accept my children and care for them without cost for close to a month  which I am very grateful,” she said.

Founder and CEO Kristen Denzer said the decision was simple. COVID-19 helped Denzer discover about one-third of the families she serves are healthcare and other essential workers. The center has five locations across the state and provides service to about 600 families.

“We wouldn’t want to put them in a position where they wouldn’t have childcare. They are providing a service to the community we need,” Denzer said. “We saw childcare centers across the country closing. Took a step back and look to our mission and want to serve our families. People are able to stay home because of those willing to go in. I felt like it was our duty to be there for them.”

Denzer said people who could keep their kids home, donated their spot at the daycare allowing essential workers like joy to continue spreading it.

"Everyone in the delivery room has a mask on. There is still joy. It is still joyous moment recognizing the birth of a child," she said. "I choose to celebrate the normalcy that we are able to maintain in this time. And not mourn all of the loss of the connections we don’t have." 

Meanwhile, Denzer said the center is providing free childcare temporarily for essential workers as long as families donate their space. When families decide they are ready to return, then they have their space back and the temporary space is gone. 

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There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.