A task force of local nonprofit and government leaders, convened by The Harvest Foundation, kicked off this weekend to address issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their first order of business Sunday was how to help working parents find child care during the two or more weeks that k-12 schools across Virginia will be closed. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the closures last week in an effort to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus strain in the state.
As of Monday, the task force has identified 155 openings for emergency placement of school-age children affected by the closing. Providers include:
- Martinsville-Henry County YMCA, 276-647-3089
- First Baptist Church ELC, 276-632-2636
- Stanleytown Amazing Grace Baptist Church, 276-629-1886
- First United Methodist Church, 276-656-6199
- Freedom Baptist Church, 276-638-3802 ext. 106
- Happy Feet, 276-403-4183
- Fresh Start — God’s Creative Learning Center, 276-634-5526
- Clydie Harrison — Family Child Care, 276-957-4645
The Harvest Foundation will share more information as it becomes available. Visit www.theharvestfoundation.org/covid-19 to find out more about community efforts surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impacts.
In a news release from the foundation, President Allyson Rothrock said, “We’re working within a fluid environment to determine the best solutions for our community when it comes to the coronavirus response. Community leaders are having important conversations and taking this matter extremely seriously. We will have updates throughout this time as we collaborate with our partners to support Martinsville-Henry County.”
Task force members include the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services, Martinsville-Henry County YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge, United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, Smart Beginnings Martinsville-Henry, Patrick Henry Community College, city of Martinsville, county of Henry and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation.
Representatives from the school systems were unable to meet during the weekend because of the short notice, Harvest Communications Director Latala Hodges said in an email, but Senior Program Officer DeWitt House will touch base with the divisions to see what type of community support is needed at this time.
As of now, there have been no formal funding requests related to the task force, Hodges said.
“The initial meeting was Sunday, so there’s still much work to be done to determine the scope of the task force’s work and if any funding will be necessary,” she said, adding that legislators are considering financial aid for coronavirus response at the state and federal levels. “If approved, those bills may be able to provide support in our community.”
Kim Barto Meeks is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at 276-638-8801.