Child care provider adds teaching her kids to responsibilities of caring for others’ young ones

Tonya Chandler’s 6-year-old daughter made a fort in the playroom, the daily hub of Chandler’s home child care business.

The fort isn’t so unusual, but the fact that Chandler’s daughter is there and not in her kindergarten classroom is; as is the name she decided to give her newly constructed shelter: a “coronavirus fort.”

Because — like life across the city — things are different now in the Chandler family home, where Tonya has run her child care business for 30 years.

“Everyone is just stressed right now. I can just see it in their faces,” she said. “It’s taking a toll on everybody. You feel it.”

Parents of a few of the eight to 10 children Chandler cares for have chosen to keep them home since efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus closed schools and businesses and limited public gatherings.

The others bring their young children to Chandler while most go back home — not to the office — to work.

Her son is pretty self-sufficient, she said, but she’s helping her daughter with math worksheets and flashcards, juggling toddler care and teacher duties.

Her home follows guidelines set by the governor limiting gatherings to 10  and she tries to limit the number of people coming to the house.

Her husband is even more diligent about wiping down doorknobs and other surfaces when he passes through.

She knows how her families depend on her.

“I know it’s a hardship for people to be home with kids when they’re trying to do their jobs,” she said. It’s a weird time to be living.”

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