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UNC students connect health care workers with emergency child care amid pandemic


Emily Newman, left, and Kathryn Carpenter, right, are master’s students in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Newman and Carpenter co-created the Childcare for Healthcare Workers website that helps connect UNC Health employees with emergency childcare, among other resources, amidst COVID-19. Photo by Taylor Doggett.

Health care employees everywhere are working tirelessly during the global pandemic of COVID-19. But some factors — such as lack of child care — can keep them from being able to show up for work. 

Emily Newman and Kathryn Carpenter co-created the Childcare for North Carolina Healthcare Workers website on March 18 to make resources like emergency child care more accessible to UNC Health employees

Newman and Carpenter, master’s students in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, said they were responding to a perceived need within the task force.

“Thinking about — 'What are the barriers to the essential workers to get to work?' — and if child care is one of them, we wanted to address that need," Newman said. 

Newman said the two created the website in just 36 hours, combining their communication and education backgrounds with their work in public health to relay information coming from the Gillings School and UNC Health.

Carpenter said the most important content on the website includes concrete child care options, suggestions for providing child care while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and general resources for those caring for children during this time.

Newman said the website is helpful because it puts COVID-19-related information about child care all in one place.

“There is a ton of information out there, which is great, but I think it’s hard to wade through it right now,” Newman said. “It’s nice to have one sanctioned, UNC-focused place with all that information, so you can really trust it.”

The two are part of UNC’s Task Force for Childcare for Healthcare Workers, which was created less than two weeks ago to provide solutions to the need for childcare. 

The task force is co-led by Hannah Prentice-Dunn, project manager for the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Prentice-Dunn said the task force is taking input from the heads of North Carolina state agencies, UNC Health leaders, health behavior students, and physicians with children to best provide solutions to the need for child care. 

“There are so many people stepping forward who want to support child care, they just need guidance on how to do it,” Prentice-Dunn said.

Prentice-Dunn, Newman, and Carpenter said their work is also informed by UNC Health employees, as they filled out a survey to help the task force best identify their needs.

This pdf will help people learn more about the survey.

The task force and the Childcare for Healthcare Workers website are still new and constantly evolving with the spread of COVID-19. Despite all the work that is required and the change occurring, Prentice-Dunn, Newman, and Carpenter said they are amazed at the work of those on their task force.

“I can’t really even emphasize how much work it has been,” Carpenter said. “Everyone is just showing up and doing it.”

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