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Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

“Congresswoman Katherine Clark on Thursday said a lack of access to child care is ‘holding our economy hostage’ and called for a shift in how the public views care and education of young children.

“Speaking at an online Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event, Clark said child care should be thought of as a public good like transportation infrastructure rather than as a personal choice for parents.

“ ‘If the Zakim Bridge collapsed, the effects on the local economy would be immediate, devastating and obvious,’ Clark said during what the Chamber billed as the Melrose Democrat’s first address to the business community. ‘Every one of us would leap into action. We would make the necessary investments in resources because we know our ability to function hinges on it. The pandemic has shown us this is true for child care.’

“Describing the current economic crisis as ‘the country’s first she-cession,’ Clark said women have been especially hard hit by the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, 865,000 women left the workforce, she said.

“Clark said many women have been confronted with a choice between their jobs and caregiving responsibilities.”

 

“Clark: Crisis exposes crucial role of child care,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service, October 22, 2020

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On October 14, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker released a revised budget for fiscal year 2021, totaling $45.5 billion. This is an increase of $900 million over the governor’s January budget proposal.

CommonWealth Magazine reports:

“The high budget is largely driven by excessive spending in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. It would be paid for with an influx of federal money as well as a $1.3 billion draw from the state’s $3.5 billion rainy day fund.”

“ ‘The rainy day fund is there to support services when it’s raining, and I think most people would agree it’s raining,’ Baker said at a State House press conference.”

The governor’s proposed funding for early education and care largely stayed the same compared to his January budget proposal.

One exception is the $5 million proposal for the workforce development initiative (3000-7066), a reduction from the $8.5 million proposed in January. (more…)

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Photo: Anna Shvets from Pexels

 

To learn more about COVID-19, Yale University researchers have asked a key question: How has the virus spread through early childhood programs?

The answer is featured in a report – “COVID-19 Transmission in US Child Care Programs” – published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“Central to the debate over school and child care reopening is whether children are efficient COVID-19 transmitters and likely to increase community spread when programs reopen,” the report says.

Led by Yale University professor Walter Gilliam, the research team surveyed 57,000 child care providers across the country about their experiences earlier this year. The researchers compared child care programs that had closed to programs that had remained open.

The report’s encouraging finding:

“Within the context of considerable infection mitigation efforts in U.S. child care programs, exposure to child care during the early months of the U.S. pandemic was not associated with elevated risk for COVID-19 transmission to providers,” the report says.

“Until now, decision makers had no way to assess whether opening child care centers would put staff at greater risk of contracting COVID-19,” Gilliam says in a Yale University article. “This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick.” (more…)

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Photo: August de Richelieu from Pexels

 

Early educators who have medical questions as they navigate the pandemic can turn to local experts for help.

One of those experts is Dr. Katherine Hsu, the state’s designated child care epidemiologist.

She is on staff at both Boston Medical Center and at the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

As the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) explains, Dr. Hsu is “a resource for questions related to operating child care programs that require medical or scientific expertise.”

She can answer questions such as:

“My staff member does not want to wear a mask for a specific medical reason – does an exception make sense, and how should I account for that in my health and safety planning?”

And:

“A child in my care is immunocompromised – are there additional precautions I should take in caring for him/her?” (more…)

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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. Source: City of Lawrence website

“There are a ton of problems that we’re facing with COVID-19: public health, unemployment, education,” Mayor Dan Rivera said on a recent Strategies for Children Zoom call about his city, Lawrence, Mass.

One of those problems cropped up at the end of August, when police found a woman running an unlicensed child care program with 25 children in her apartment.

“We had to shut the place down,” Rivera says, “but this wasn’t an opportunity to arrest somebody or throw a huge fine at them. That to me would have been criminalizing poverty because most of the people that were bringing their kids there couldn’t afford to have child care or couldn’t find affordable safe child care.”

Back in August, Rivera said it would be better to educate parents and to talk to employers about their workers’ child care needs.

Rivera also found another solution to the problem: himself.

He asked Maria Gonzalez Moeller, CEO of The Community Group, a local nonprofit provider, how much it would cost to provide child care for 200 kids. Then he went to the Lawrence City Council and asked for $400,000 in emergency funds to finance child care scholarships. (more…)

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On streets across America, every night at around 6 p.m., child care programs shut their doors for the day — shutting out working parents who need late-night or early-morning child care programs.

It’s a problem that has grown more vivid as the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the fragility of the country’s child care systems. 

“In a resource-starved child care system, very few licensed child care providers can serve the child care needs of parents with schedules outside the old, standard, 9-to-5 business day,” Sandra Teixeira of the nonprofit organization New England United for Justice says in a new video.

The result, Teixeira says, parents get shut out of nighttime, weekend, and other off-hour jobs. 

That’s why a group of nonprofit organizations and labor unions convened by Community Labor United have launched a new initiative called Care that Works to transform child care delivery in Massachusetts.

The first step:

The “union-backed coalition, with help from the city of Boston, is launching a pilot program to provide childcare in the early morning, for workers in industries like construction that do not have standard work hours,” CommonWealth magazine reports. (more…)

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“Kenya Bradshaw, vice president of an education company with 500 employees, said she started seeing an overwhelming number of female employees using up vacation days early on in the pandemic, and is now seeing them leave their jobs because of childcare issues.

” ‘Many of our women actually make more than their husbands, but they are the ones who are the lead childcare provider, so because of that, their families are also taking on some additional economic strain,’ she said. ‘These are middle class women I’m talking about in most cases.’

” ‘I’m concerned about the burden of low to moderate wage employees who don’t even have the flexibility to make that decision,’ added Bradshaw, who received thousands of replies when she posted about the topic on social media”

 

“Mothers in the workplace at a ‘tipping point’ amid the pandemic, childcare crisis,” Katie Kindelan, Good Morning America, October 1, 2020

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The results of a new poll from the First Five Years Fund are in:

“The Coronavirus pandemic has opened voters’ eyes to the importance of child care for families—and the economy. Now voters are ready for sweeping federal action,” the Fund explains on its poll fact sheet.

Among the poll’s findings:

• 84% of American voters say high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service — just like healthcare and education

• 79% of voters say that the pandemic has made it clear to them how essential a strong child care system is for families who need it, and

• 77% of voters say that public funding for children’s education and care should start before kindergarten

“No longer can lawmakers and candidates for office view child care as a “nice-to-have” service, when voters now clearly see it as something that is essential for children, families, and America’s economy.”

Child care also has bipartisan appeal: (more…)

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This Thursday, the Massachusetts Head Start Association (MHSA) will launch its virtual fall conference, “Adapting to Change: Head Start in 2020 and Beyond.”

“2020 is a time for change and adaptation for early educators,” Michelle Haimowitz, MHSA’s executive director, says. “Our conference offers short professional development opportunities throughout October to help address our changing environment.”

The conference features eight virtual workshops that will take place from October 1, 2020, to Tuesday, October 20, 2020, and touch on the challenging issues of the day.

Kristin Tenney-Blackwell, a psychologist will kick things off with a workshop called, “Wellness: Taking Care of Yourself.” This workshop will “focus on understanding the importance of health and wellness of adults in a child’s life. Educators and program leaders will explore strategies and approaches to enhancing adult resilience,” the conference website explains.

Another workshop, “Supporting Children to Embrace Race: How we can & why we must,” led by Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, two parents who co-founded the organization Embrace Race, will feature a “presentation and Q & A that considers some of the evidence for racial bias and steps we can take to push back against it – in our children and ourselves.” (more…)

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Earlier this week, child care champions posted tweets to encourage Congress to #SaveChildCare.

 

 

(more…)

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