Osceola County’s first responders have enough to deal with, responding to increasing number of issues thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of those brave people have children now at home doing distance learning for another couple weeks … and then they’ll be home for the summer.

The local community has their backs — the kids and the responders — in a time of need.

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida and the Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County have launched programs for the support and supervision of those children at no cost to first responder parents.

The Boys & Girls Club program runs from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Tupperware Brands Branch (2411 Dyer Blvd. Kissimmee 34741, across from Kissimmee Elementary and Middle schools). Ages range from 5 to 18 years old. To register, parents should contact the program administrator at 407-841-6855 or mreid@bgccf.org. Details are available at https://www.bgccf.org/resources/.

While maintaining proper precautions, children in the program can partake in small-group activities that include academic support, recreation and character building.

Funding is through an existing agreement between Osceola County and the Boys & Girls Club. This COVID-19 response is to ensure our front-line workers — doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and fire fighters — know their families are safe and secure while battling COVID-19.

“We are extremely excited that the Boys & Girls Club was able to step forward and offer this service so our first-responders could report to the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 with the certainty that their children are receiving safe and loving care,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “It’s important to take care of those who have such a pivotal role in taking care of the rest of us.”

Additionally, the Florida Department of Education and Office of Early Learning launched a new program in late April to help first responders and health care workers increase access to childcare by providing scholarships and referrals to open childcare programs. There are no income guidelines for this program and families with children under the age of 13 are eligible.

The Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County is the local lead for the program in partnership with Community Coordinated Care for Children, Inc.  Applications for this program can be found at www.elcosceola.org and www.4cflorida.org. Families can also call 321-219-6300 for more information.

“We know that child care is a critical workforce support.  We are grateful for our first responders and health workers as we fight this pandemic and want to ensure that children and families have the healthiest and safest child care options available,” Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County CEO, Amanda Kelkenberg said.