SACRAMENTO – Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby announced last week the launch of a free “Essential Worker Childcare” program for first responders, health care workers and essential City of Sacramento employees.

Starting March 23, 350 childcare slots for children ages 5 to 12 were up and running at eight community centers throughout the city. The program will be administered by the City’s Youth, Parks and Community Enrichment Department.

The children will be kept in separate groups of 10 or less that will not intermingle. Parents who wish to enroll their children in the program can register at and search under Essential Worker Child Care, where they can select their preferred location.

They were required to present identification showing they fall into one of three categories: City of Sacramento first responders, front-line health care workers who work in the City of Sacramento and essential City of Sacramento employees.

The centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a ratio of one caregiver for every 10 children. They will be staffed by licensed and background-checked personnel who normally work in the City’s 4th “R” and START programs.

Mayor Pro Tem Ashby, who worked with City staff to create the childcare program, said it will likely expand in the coming weeks if there is enough demand. She noted that there are other childcare options available for those who don’t meet the criteria for the City program.

First responders, health care workers and essential City employees who need care for children younger than five will be referred to the YMCA, which has 60 paid slots available. Child Action, Inc., the local non-profit childcare referral service, has also set aside 50 vouchers for subsidized childcare in the community for low-income workers.

Childcare is considered an essential service under the state and local Stay at Home orders, and the majority of the daycare operations in Sacramento remain open to support those working in essential sectors. The order issued by Sacramento County Thursday requires that children be kept in separate groups of 12 or fewer.

The City’s community centers are otherwise closed, but eight of them will reopen for the purpose of providing childcare. They will not be open for the public.

Centers that will offer childcare include Sam and Bonnie Pannell, Belle Cooledge, George Sim, Oak Park, Coloma, Hart, Joe Mims Jr., Hagginwood, and South Natomas.

For questions related to the program and/or registration, please email