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Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, COVID-19 has kept our advocacy focus on funding, health, and safety. Now that early childhood programs are reopening, we want to shine a spotlight on mental health.

As children, parents, and staff members continue to navigate life during a pandemic, they may need help managing mental health challenges.

Young children face a particularly high risk of being negatively impacted by the pandemic, Aditi Subramaniam said during a Strategies for Children Zoom call. She is the Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership Manager at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Children may experience intense feelings or regress developmentally, and it may be emotionally tough for them to engage in social distancing, Subramaniam added. Fortunately, this risk can be mitigated by ensuring that children receive nurturing, responsive, and consistent care from caregivers and providers.

To help children, caregivers and providers can draw on several resources. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts’ legislators are listening, so please share your experiences.

Last week, the state’s Joint Committee on Education held part one of a virtual hearing on early education and care during the COVID-19 emergency. A video of that hearing is posted here.

Tomorrow — Tuesday, July 7, 2020 — the committee will hold part two.

You can join in by emailing written testimony through tomorrow at 5 p.m. to both of the committee’s chairs. Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) can be reached at Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov. And the email address for Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) is Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov.

It’s crucial to tell state legislators about the challenges that early educator and care providers will face as they reopen their programs. And, sadly, it’s also important to discuss that fact that some programs will not be financially able to reopen.

“Over the last two weeks, we have heard heartbreaking stories from directors and family child care of providers who are borrowing from their reserves in the hope of a child care bailout that may never come,” Amy O’Leary wrote in the testimony she shared at last week’s hearing. O’Leary is the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign. (more…)

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Photo: Andre Melcher from Pexels

 

The title of an article from the Center for American Progress says it all: “The Coronavirus Will Make Child Care Deserts Worse and Exacerbate Inequality.”

“As COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders to protect public health continue, a quiet crisis is unfolding in child care programs across the country,” the article says. “At the outset of the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of child care providers said they could not survive a closure that extended longer than one month. The Center for American Progress estimates that the country could lose half of its licensed child care capacity without government intervention.”

The center has a tool that shows where child care deserts were before COVID-19 — including like western Massachusetts — where more closures would make limited access even worse.

One possible outcome: inequitable access based on race and income. As the article explains: (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

COVID-19 has not only created a health crisis and an economic crisis, but also a child care crisis.

A persistent and troubling concern is that child care programs that closed during the pandemic will shut down permanently, and parents in need of this care won’t be able to return to work, crippling the economy’s ability to stabilize.

There is, however, hope.

As the country rebuilds, it could invest wisely in child care programs, helping them to recover and emerge stronger.

Here are three takes on how this could occur.

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Families and businesses benefit from child care, JD Chesloff explains in a blog for ReadyNation, a part of Council for a Strong America, a national nonprofit that promotes children’s success. Chesloff is the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and a ReadyNation advisory board member.

“Child care allows parents to work, be more productive while on the job, and reach higher levels of professional achievement. Nurturing learning environments prepare young children for kindergarten and future achievement in school and, eventually, in the workplace.” (more…)

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“TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

“For millions of Americans, returning to work is not just contingent on the lifting of stay-at-home orders and their employer reopening, but on securing care for their children. The existing childcare arrangements for many working parents have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic fallout. To ensure that more Americans can quickly return to work and to support our nation’s overall economic recovery, Congress should provide timely, targeted, and temporary emergency assistance to licensed childcare centers and homes. Similarly, states should continue to implement temporary regulatory actions to help licensed centers and homes quickly and safely adjust to meet operational challenges.”

“While critical support through the CARES Act was provided to small businesses early on in this crisis, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) only one-quarter of the childcare market received a Paycheck Protection Loan.

“For those that have remained open and that will reopen, decreased capacity and new pandemic-related costs mean operating losses. That will eventually lead to more closures and even less available childcare.”

 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter, June 10, 2020

 

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Also check out the report: “Untapped Potential: Economic Impact of Childcare Breakdowns on U.S. States,” February 28, 2020, which notes:

“At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we see childcare as a two-generation workforce issue, crucial for our workforce of today and workforce of tomorrow. Access to affordable, quality childcare is essential for working parents to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce, yet it is hard to come by. The first years of life are critical for children to build a strong foundation upon which future learning is built, yet current supply cannot meet demand.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Jodilynn Machado

 

At the YMCA Southcoast in New Bedford, coping with the COVID-19 pandemic started with offering emergency child care.

Now the Y is also getting ready to reopen its child care program by early July – working to keep children engaged and meet strict state safety regulations.

Providing emergency child care

“We’re changing gloves constantly, between every transition that we do, gloves are being changed, masks are being put on,” Jodilynn Machado, the Y’s child care director, said last month in the midst of providing emergency child care for 30 children ages 2.9 to 13 years old, including seven preschoolers.

In addition, Machado and her staff were also doing a lot of cleaning, sanitizing chairs, toys, and anything else that the children in their care have touched.

“We also check in with parents,” Machado said, “we always ask them if there’s anything that they need that we can assist them with.” One pressing need for many families has been food. So the Y has connected them to food programs. (more…)

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This Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, the movie “No Small Matter,” will have its live streaming national premiere on Facebook Live.

Click here to register – especially if you missed the local screenings.

“No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for change in America today: early childhood education,” the movie’s press kit explains, adding:

“Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years, and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the country.”

As the screening’s website says, the screening will be followed by “a live panel discussion highlighting the devastating impact of COVID-19 on children, families, and caregivers, and in turn, on the economy. Woven throughout the event will be video messages from celebrities, cultural influencers, and frontline workers thanking early educators for the challenging, exhausting, and essential work they do every day.”

Please share news of the screening on social media by using the website’s graphics and sample social media posts.

The movie highlights the urgent need for action, its website noting:

“The United States has always been defined by opportunity — and no issue so glaringly highlights our failure to deliver on this promise as the imbalance in the opportunities afforded to our youngest children.”

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“Portland City Council today approved $68 million in Portland Children’s Levy community investments over the next three years providing opportunities in education, youth development and family support.

“In its unanimous vote, Council members said they were pleased that Levy funding for 85 programs would go toward reaching city youth affected by generations of racial, ethnic and economic inequity. Some of the Levy partnering organizations will also use funds to respond to emergency needs during the COVID pandemic, especially in Black, Indigenous and communities of color.

“The approved three-year funding from July 2020 – June 2023 includes 22 grants for new programs, 10 expansions for currently funded programs, and 53 continuing grants to maintain current services:

• 16 grants in Early Childhood for $21 million

• 22 grants in After School for $12.6 million

• 16 grants in Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention for $12.2 million

• 12 grants in Foster Care for $8.5 million

• 11 grants in Hunger Relief for $7 million

• and 8 grants in Mentoring for $6.7 million

“Levy funded programs all work toward:

• Preparing children for school;

• Supporting their success inside and outside of the classroom; and

• Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in their well-being and school success.”

“Today’s vote comes after a two-year planning process by the Levy that included community outreach and engagement built around equity, transparency and inclusion in the funding process.”

 

“City Council Approves $68M in Levy community investments,” City of Portland press release, June 17, 2020

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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. Source: City of Lawrence Instagram page

“Are we in a place where we can safely go back to business, go back to work or go back to life?” Lawrence, Mass., Mayor Dan Rivera said last week on a Zoom call with the early childhood community.

This question, Rivera explained, is what the members of the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board have been asking as they grapple with how to emerge from the statewide shutdowns caused by COVID-19.

Rivera serves on the reopening board, and he’s working hard to protect his city, which has had, as of Tuesday, 3,438 COVID-19 cases and 127 deaths. Last month, The Boston Globe reported that Lawrence had become “a coronavirus hot spot, with the fourth-highest per capita rate of infection in Massachusetts.”

On the Zoom call, Rivera provided a mayor’s-eye-view of the crisis and its impact on child care.

Handling disasters isn’t new work for Lawrence. In 2018, gas line explosions shoved the city into crisis mode.

“Because of the Columbia Gas crisis, we know what suffering would look like if we didn’t step up right away,” Rivera explains in a follow-up interview. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

This week, there are two important events that will help boost early childhood advocacy efforts.

The first event: Strategies for Children is adding a new, one-hour webinar to its Advocacy 101 series.

These conversations about the basics of early education and care advocacy are grounded in the current context of reopening child care programs, and you can watch live on three dates (click on the date to register for that session):

 

Advocacy 101: Reopening Child Care 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Thursday, June 18, 2020, at 11 a.m.

 

Amy O’Leary, the director of Strategies’ Early Education for All Campaign, will discuss reopening as well as ways to get involved in local, state, and federal advocacy. Amy will talk about who to call, what to say, and when to take action.

The second event: (more…)

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