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Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

 

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released long-awaited reopening guidelines for the state’s child care programs: “Massachusetts Child and Youth Serving Programs Reopen Approach: Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety.”

Programs can reopen in Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase rollout. The exact date for reopening will depend on an ongoing analysis of the state’s COVID-19 data. The guidelines are being released now so that programs can plan for the operational changes they will need to make – and so that they can share these changes with families.

The reopening guidelines set high standards for health and sanitation that should protect children and staff. These standards were developed by an inter-agency working group of education, human services, and public health officials, and they were reviewed by medical experts at Boston Children’s Hospital.

As The Boston Globe reports, “…child care centers can begin to submit plans for reopening as soon as they satisfy newly released health and safety guidelines.” Massachusetts’ planning requirements are more thorough than those of most other states. (more…)

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In the face of COVID-19, Massachusetts has shut down early education and care programs and licensed some providers to offer emergency care for the children of essential workers.

To keep the field informed about the pandemic and about what emergency providers are learning, the Department of Early Education and Care has been holding a series of town hall meetings. Please check them out. Recordings of the meetings are posted here.

 

Screenshot of Department of Early Education and Care town hall recording

 

“I have been practicing family child care for the past 13 years in the Dorchester community.”

”Right now I currently have seven children that we are taking care of, and I enjoy it. I have a sense of community. I love what I do. And I wouldn’t dream of not being able to participate and do what I can. We all have to roll up our shirt sleeves and do the best we possibly can during this crisis.”

— Dorothy “Dottie” Williams, family child care provider, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

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“We know that no economic reopening or recovery will be successful if employees and working families do not have access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care for their children. We also know that we must think about the needs of children as we reopen the economy.”

— Amy O’Leary, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“This is the pen you are going to use,” Maria Gonzalez Moeller — wearing a mask and holding a thermometer — says to families who walk into the lobby of the Early Learning Center run by The Community Group in Lawrence, Mass. “When you’re done with the pen, you put it down here.”

The pen, she explains, is what a parent or caregiver will use every time they sign their children in or out of emergency child care.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, no one else will touch the pen.

“It’s the visual impact of the mask and the pen and thermometer that gives parents confidence,” Moeller, The Community Group’s CEO, says. Yes, this is a historically disastrous pandemic, but Moeller and her staff are going to make sure that the kids in their care have a good day.

“Parents are not allowed to see the building, but I offer them the option of meeting the teacher through a window,” Moeller explains.

The Early Learning Center has a license to provide emergency child care for children ages 2.9 to 10 years old.

“As soon as the opportunity to offer emergency child care became an option, we thought about it, and we decided it matched our mission,” Moeller says. “We were already a licensed childcare center, and we had strong connections with the community, so we opened our doors.” (more…)

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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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Last week, Amy O’Leary participated in a town hall meeting on child care and paid family leave organized by the Coalition for Social Justice. (The meeting starts at the 10:09 time mark.)

Launching the meeting, Jynai McDonald, the family child care coordinator for SEIU 509, thanked Congress for its initial $7 billion support of child care programs, and she called for more advocacy.

Child care, McDonald says, needs $50 billion.

Other speakers addressed the need for paid family leave that can protect parents and caregivers from having to choose between caring for children and relatives and losing their jobs. This is particularly important now given the threat of COVID-19 and the need for people who get sick from this virus to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Amy, the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, shared “what we know” about child care now. (more…)

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Source: Eastern Bank Instagram page

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, early education and care programs are getting crucial philanthropic support.

This includes $5 million in grant funding from Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Eastern Bank.

The grants will help “organizations focused on the most vulnerable populations,” including families with young children, emergency child care centers, family child care centers, and child care professionals.

“It takes a community of public and private partners working together to stave off the devastating and long-lasting impacts of this disease, and this philanthropic investment is intended to make a meaningful contribution to this effort,” Bob Rivers, the chair and CEO of Eastern Bank says in a press release.

Nancy Huntington Stager, president and CEO of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, adds in the release, “Evidence of the impact of this virus outbreak on our neighbors, families, and small businesses is everywhere. And we also see the resiliency, sheer will, and hope of people across our region as they band together to help one another. The need for assistance continues to grow, and we will continue to do whatever we can to give back as well as encourage those who are able to do so to join us.” (more…)

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Last week was the latest entry in Strategies for Children’s Advocacy 101 webinars.

The topic: state budget updates — or, to put it more bluntly, what COVID-19 has done to the budget.

Earlier this year, before the pandemic shut down Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker submitted his fiscal year ’21 budget.

“This budget would have continued an eighth consecutive year of increases for early education,” Titus DosRemedios, Strategies director of research and policy, says in the webinar. (more…)

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