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What’s your child care/early education story?

The Common Start Coalition — a group of organizations, providers, and individuals in Massachusetts — is gathering stories to demonstrate the need for affordable, high-quality early education and child care, especially during the pandemic. The stories will be shared publicly on social media and with policymakers.

Click here to share your story.

You’ll be joining others who have already shared their stories, including:

 

Carl R.: “I have two children, a daughter and a son, and they both have children of their own. My wife and I actually retired from our jobs to help care for our grandchildren due to child care issues. My daughter had a child back in 2016 and needed child care for her infant. She found out it was going to be $2000 a month. So my wife decided to retire to help care for the child. I started to think what would happen if my wife got sick and couldn’t watch the baby but luckily I was able to retire.

“A large part of my children’s issue is not only finding childcare but also finding a provider whose program runs late enough. My daughter works in Boston and the child care ends at 5:30. My daughter doesn’t know when she will be able to get home. That’s why I pick up my granddaughter, who is now 3 turning 4, from preschool. In my son’s case both he and his wife are teachers. The issue is that their children do not attend the school that he and his wife work at. They run into issues when their children’s schools have half days and the school they teach at doesn’t so they need someone to pick up the kids and keep an eye on them until they get home.”

 

Gloria: “I struggled a lot when my children were smaller because I did not have child care and I had to go to work to support my family. First I had my two older sons babysit but when they couldn’t I had to pay a family member to babysit when she was available. I had no vehicle at that time so I had to taxi to the babysitter. I was really struggling to support my family as a big amount of my check went to babysitter and taxi. Later when I couldn’t keep paying a babysitter I had to quit my job. Now that my kids are older and no longer need a baby sitter I went back to work. But even now that they no longer need a baby sitter I can’t afford a summer program because I do not have a voucher and summer camps/programs are ridiculously expensive.”

 

Shanice C.: “My heart hurts for the little ones going through this because they do not understand it. This is probably the biggest struggle in this pandemic: making sure the little ones are okay and preparing them for the NEW normal.”

 

Strategies for Children is a member of the Common Start Coalition as is Edward Street Child Services, Greater Boston Legal Services, Local 509 SEIU, the Worcester Food Policy Council, the Women’s Fund, and a host of other nonprofit organizations.

Click here to learn more — and to read more of these and other stories.

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“In a vote Wednesday night, the House passed the Child Care Is Essential Act on a bipartisan basis, 249-163. The legislation creates a $50 billion fund to provide grants to help pay for personnel, sanitation, training and other costs associated with reopening and running a child-care facility amid the pandemic.”

“The House also passed on a bipartisan basis the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, which is designed to provide funding to help child-care providers reopen and improve the safety of care facilities going forward.”

“ ‘We cannot assume that business can go on as usual if we don’t meet the needs of working parents,’ Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said during a press conference Wednesday. When reporters started to ask questions pertaining to other news items, Sanchez interrupted to ask that they stick to the topic of child care. ‘I get so tired of everyone wanting to talk about deals and red lining and not talk about what’s relevant to the majority of families in this country,’ she said.”

 

“House passes set of bills that give child care industry a more than $60 billion bailout,” by Megan Leonhardt, CNBC.com, July 29, 2020

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“ ‘The childcare crisis is not new. The need for paid family and medical leave is not new. The need for protections for caregivers and for parents and for pregnant workers is not new. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to raise awareness about these issues,’ says Sarah Brafman, Senior Policy Counsel at A Better Balance, which advocates for policies to help working families. ‘But we have a moment where we do have a global crisis, and this is an opportunity to address the failings of our past.’ ”

“Indeed, childcare is an issue that, while crucial for families, should be important to anyone who wants to see the American economy made whole again. ‘If they really want to help people get back to work, they have to figure out how to safely create spaces where children can stay,’ says Emily James, an English teacher at a Brooklyn, New York high school. James lives in the Bronx with her husband and daughters, ages 5 and 7. Prior to the pandemic, James says, her husband worked nights, starting at 4 a.m. ‘We basically just switched off because we had opposite schedules — we would tag off, dump them off to each other. Or we would have a babysitter for an hour or so in between, if we could.‘ These days, they’re both home, because he’s on leave due to a health condition, but that hasn’t made balancing work with caring for the kids any easier. ‘From 8:00 in the morning until 1:00 p.m., my kids would be next to me while I was teaching my students.’ ”

 

“Coronavirus Has Finally Put A Spotlight On America’s Childcare Crisis. What Happens Now?” by Cait Munro, Refinery29, July 15, 2020

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“At the family child care center she runs out of her Dorchester home, Dottie Williams has started asking parents to send teddy bears along with their kids.

“Ms. Dottie’s NeighborSchool serves children between five months and four years old, an age range for which Williams said touch is an important way of bonding. To translate the ritual of a hug to the COVID-19 era, she now asks the kids to hug their own teddy bear while she hugs hers.

“ ‘Children are very, very creative, and when you’re creative with them, they can adjust,’ Williams told lawmakers Tuesday.

“As advocates and child care providers continue to call for an infusion of public funds to help the industry cope with added costs and lost revenue associated with providing care during a pandemic, stuffed animal-facilitated hugs are among several short-term adjustments speakers highlighted during the Education Committee’s virtual oversight hearing.”

 

“COVID-19 forcing innovation at child care centers: Ripple effects linger as key industry is strained,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service story in The Salem News, Jul 7, 2020

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“The critical role that childcare plays in society has never been more apparent. But as decisions get made about reopening guidelines and adult-child ratios, are we forgetting the rights of children and of those who care for them? (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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“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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House Speaker Robert DeLeo at Advocacy Day in the State House in 2014. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We all understand that a key component of any recovery is access to safe child care.

“Through our work together over the years with the EEC Workforce Task Force and championing innovative new models in order to foster increased coordination between early education programming and health care, the House of Representatives has stood by our Early Education and Care providers and most vulnerable children. We have focused on this sector in order to prioritize the health and wellbeing of children, today and beyond.

“With your help, the Early Education and Care Business Advisory group also made key recommendations including a multi-year action plan for targeting investments that strengthened our EEC efforts in Massachusetts. And the House has lived up to our commitment. We led the way to provide more than $60 million in unprecedented increases to support the workforce and improve programs for the most at-risk children.

“Now COVID-19 threatens that progress. Providers will need to consider new health and safety protocols, which will likely affect the overall capacity of the system. I am pleased to announce that Chair Peisch, informed and supported by the work of Chair Ferrante, will spearhead a newly-formed Early Education and Care Recovery Advisory Group to ensure businesses and providers are prepared to support families and workers in this new landscape. The group will look at how health protocols will impact childcare, examine the financing models for programs amid tremendous change, and explore the effect the pandemic has had on programs in communities of color and those throughout the sector.”

 

— House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s prepared remarks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, May 21, 2020

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“As a crisis management expert, we tend to view ‘critical infrastructure’ as those aspects of society that are essential functions for life and livelihood: transportation, water, food, electricity, supply chain. This pandemic has taught us about one more: child care is also critical. Working parents cannot go back to work, cannot re-engage in our economy, if kids are home. There is no simple answer, but it must be at the front of our discourse.”

— Juliette Kayyem, Senior Belfer Lecturer in International Security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security for President Obama, in a May 14, 2020, email to Strategies for Children

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“Thank you for being a wonderful teacher to teach everybody in our classes!”

 

Ellis Memorial Facebook page, May 7, 2020

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