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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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How are babies doing?

The new “State of Babies Yearbook: 2020,” released by the national nonprofit Zero to Three, has answers.

“The Yearbook is the story of the 12 million infants and toddlers in the U.S. and their families,” the yearbook’s executive summary explains.

“But it is also the story of our nation’s future. The babies behind the numbers are our society’s next generation of parents, workers, and leaders. We can’t afford to squander the potential of a single child if our nation is to thrive—nor should it be acceptable that so many have barriers in their way.”

The yearbook’s goal is to bridge “the gap between science and policy with national and state-by-state data on the well-being of America’s babies.”

Grounded “in the science of early development,” the yearbook looks at how babies are doing in three developmental domains: good health, strong families, and positive learning experiences. Within each of these domains are a number of indicators including: (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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“Access to high-quality child care, particularly for families with low incomes, has always been a challenge. The coronavirus pandemic has made it even more challenging.”

“…policymakers must recognize how the difficulties of navigating this new child care landscape will be compounded for families with low incomes. These difficulties will be even more challenging for families harmed by systemic barriers related to race, ethnicity, language, and ability. BlackLatinx, and Native American families have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, with disproportionate rates of death, unemployment, hunger, and housing insecurity.”

“States can equitably gather the full range of family child care needs by:

Expanding data collection methods to include surveys, focus groups, and community mapping

• Using multiple languages, technologies, accessibility supports, and engagement strategies

• Developing partnerships between government agencies, trusted community groups, and parent-led organizations to assist with collecting data, elevating parent voices, and informing families of available options

Oversampling underserved communities to gather insights that would ordinarily be seen as too small to report

Disaggregating data by race and ethnicity, ability, employment sector, age, and income to understand the multiple factors that shape family child care needs, also known as intersectionality”

 

“Child Care Coronavirus Recovery Conversations: Equitable Approaches to Elevating Parent Voices,” by Alycia Hardy, CLASP Blog Post, June 3, 2020

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Photo: Gustavo Fring. Source: Pexels

 

As the country moves through the coronavirus crisis, states will be able to learn from each other about how to navigate the pandemic and reopen early education and care problems.

The starting line for all states is reviewing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But individual states are taking their own approach.

A number of national organizations are tracking state responses, including the Hunt Institute, a national nonprofit organization that has released a summary of state actions.

“States are devising a number of health and safety protocols to address the new situation we’re in, so that they can promote child development while complying with social distancing guidelines,” Ryan Telingator, Strategies for Children’s new intern, says. Telingator has been monitoring these varied approaches.

Massachusetts, for example, has largely steered its own course. Governor Baker chose to close child care programs when coronavirus first hit the country hard and only offer emergency child care. Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and a handful of other states made the same choice, and so did New York City. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

When COVID-19 hit, researchers at the University of Oregon wanted to know how the pandemic was affecting families, so they formed RAPID-EC.

The initiative – its full name is Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development (RAPID) – Early Childhood – is an ongoing survey of “early childhood family well-being” that’s “designed to gather essential information in a continuous manner regarding the needs, health promoting behaviors, and well-being of children and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.”

Weekly surveys draw on a “nationally representative sample of parents.”

The survey results aren’t surprising. The pandemic is taking a huge toll on families. But RAPID-EC explains how this is happening, offering insights to policymakers as they figure out how to reopen and rebuild society.

RAPID-EC is sharing its findings in a series of articles posted on Medium.

A RAPID-EC article posted last month points to economic differences, noting: (more…)

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We collectively mourn the killing of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality and racial violence.

We call for justice for them, their families, and their communities.

We stand with and for Black communities and we state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.

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We reflect on our own work serving children and families in Massachusetts.

We acknowledge the institutionalized racism that has created disparities in the education, housing, employment, and health of the families that we serve.

We consider our own biases and those in our organizations and communities.

We commit to examine our individual and organizational practices, including a commitment to raising underrepresented voices within the early childhood field.

We call on all our elected officials at the federal, state, and local level to examine policies, funding, and practices with regard to race and racial disparities.

We call on Governor Baker and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to consider the racial and gender implications of major structural changes to child care in the short- and long-term.

We cannot keep adding to the ranks of the working poor and especially disadvantaging women of color for whom the costs of inequitable compensation are greater.

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We recommit ourselves to achieving racial equity in early childhood and school-age programs through advocacy, action, and policy change.

Together we will stand up, speak out, and work to dismantle the historical systems of racism and inequity.

 

Acre Family Child Care

Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs

Boston Opportunity Agenda

Clarendon Early Education Services, Inc.

Commonwealth Children’s Fund

Early Care & Education Consortium

Early Childhood Consulting Group

East Boston Social Centers

Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath)

Edward Street Child Services

For Kids Only Afterschool

Governmental Strategies, Inc.

Harbor City School

Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, UMass Boston

Jumpstart

Little Folks Community Day Care Center, Inc.

Neighborhood Villages

Nurtury

Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership

Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MAAEYC)

Massachusetts Child Care Resource and Referral Network

Massachusetts Head Start Association

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

ParentChild+

Parenting Journey

Raising a Reader MA

SEIU Local 509

Strategies for Children

The Boston Foundation

The Care Institute

The Community Group, Lawrence, MA

The Williston Northampton Children’s Center

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Wellesley Centers for Women

YMCA of Greater Boston

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