HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The state says it’s taking a lesson learned during the pandemic and making it permanent. The state is creating a network to help licensed home daycare providers get help when they need it.

Childcare is and has been one of the biggest barriers to getting people back into the workforce as we come out of the pandemic. On Monday, the state announced a new permanent partnership to help licensed home daycare centers and the families they serve.

“I know how to find a provider if I need one. If I need some help if I need some support,” said Cureene Blake.

It was welcome news for home childcare providers. The pandemic program that created a support network is now permanent. Hartford is one of the six hub cities that will be a resource childcare providers in 25 surrounding communities can lean on. They provide things like training and guidance on running their business.

“That really shows us family childcare providers provide such important high-quality care, but they can be sort of isolated and they can lean on each other,” said Beth Bye, Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.

“They also provide vital resources to parents, to families who need to work and for whom that childcare is absolutely essential to be able to get to work and do their job and know that their children are being cared for and nurtured and kept safe and taught,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

The state says now more than ever, those home daycares are key to getting the state back on its feet and getting kids off on the right foot.

“We are early childhood educators,” Blake said. “We are the people who work with mothers, fathers, aunts, and grandmothers to empower them and assure them that they are their children’s first teachers.”

The home childcare program is a partnership between the state, the United Way, and the Hub Communities. The Hartford hub will help more than 400 regional home daycares.