CORONAVIRUS | Frontliners might be putting up a brave front and indomitable spirit when battling the Covid-19 pandemic, but nobody sees the internal struggle they endure at not being able to be in close contact with family members especially their children.
While the efforts of fellow Malaysians to allay some of their difficulties during the movement control order (MCO) are commendable, these frontliners, who are mostly parents, are constantly worried about the state of their children especially the younger ones.
Aware of this problem, social movement Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR) introduced a programme called the #FrontlinersFirst Childcare Fund, which aims to provide healthcare staff with urgent childcare services at a subsidised price to ease their burden and worries.
Programme coordinator Dr Siti Noor Munirah Ibrahim said they are collaborating with Kiddocare, a platform offering professional childcare services, whereby the carers would go to respective houses to provide private childcare assistance for the offspring of frontliners.
She said POWR has raised RM66,898 in public donations from the second day of the MCO until April 17, but continuous support of the Malaysian people is needed to top up the fund as it is perpetually being used to subsidise the childcare programme.
“We are subsidising up to 90 percent of the programme for Health Ministry (MOH) staff at the frontlines and have used RM56,628 for 4,310 hours of childcare service,” she told Bernama.
She said with POWR running out of money following the recent extension of the MCO, they might need to consider slashing the subsidy from 90 percent to between 50 and 75 percent on certain categories of childcare.
“We would appreciate it if everyone can kindly spread the word and hope that continuous support and donations from kind Malaysians will help us to continue the programme for as long as we can.
“Let us help look after the families of frontliners, while they help keep us all safe from Covid-19,” she said.
Kiddocare founder and chief executive officer Nadira Yusoff said to date, 80 carers have served the needs of healthcare frontliners from 27 hospitals and government clinics in the Klang Valley, giving them peace of mind by providing approximately 521 service sessions which have benefitted about 90 children.
Under the subsidy, the frontliners now only pay RM10 for six hours, RM13 for eight hours, RM15 for 10 hours and RM18 for 12 hours, compared with the usual rates which start from RM120 for six hours and can go up to RM230 for 12 hours.
Nadira said the demand has been extremely overwhelming coming from all parts of Malaysia, but unfortunately, the service is only confined to the Klang Valley.
However, she said, there are some challenges faced in carrying out this programme as childcare is not considered an essential service and this is cumbersome for the healthcare frontliners who are still required to work almost every day since the MCO began.
Kiddocarers are made up of Malaysian women aged 18 and above who have received basic childcare training as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and safety aid training, with many holding a certification in early childhood education.
Nadira said Kiddocare is also guaranteed to fully comply with the MOH’s guidelines even in the event of a pandemic, enabling the platform to give assurance and comfort to its clients.
She said in the long run, Kiddocare foresees the government tackling this matter as the service is indeed a top priority for frontliners as long as they are needed to put in long hours during the MCO period.
“We need to move forward and adapt to new ways in ensuring a child's wellbeing is still looked after when all other daycare centres and schools are closed due to the pandemic, while at the same time giving relief to parents and keeping their stress at bay,” she said.
She said donations to POWR can be made to ABIM's Bank Islam account 14023010011219, with the note #childcare in the reference column so that they can track donations accordingly.
“Alternatively, if you are a staff of MOH seeking urgent childcare support, you can contact, KiddoCare (019-8830175) or e-mail [email protected],” she said.
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