We are seeing early childhood centers reopening across the United States. Parents and guardians are faced with tough questions regarding possible health risks with placing their children in early childhood centers.
Some parents are having to decide if they can go back to work at all and what choices they have for their children. A recent Washington Post article highlighted the struggle of a nurse in Texas who couldn’t find child care for her two children. “I had no choice but to quit. I want to work, but because of everything that happened with schools and daycares closed, I wasn’t able to,” said Eliza Navarro, 33. “I’ve been working since I was 17. I love working. I love my patients and my job.”
Some 40% of the country’s child care providers that existed pre-pandemic expect to close permanently unless they receive additional public assistance, according to a National Association for the Education of Young Children survey of more than 5,000 childcare providers.
If parents/guardians have the option of sending their child to an early childhood center, there are important considerations they must think through. It is important that parents/guardians assess their own level of comfort when considering sending their children to centers.
The Council, in coordination with its newly created Advisory Committee, has created this set of questions to ask the director and/or educators at early childhood centers:
1. What are the new protocols and procedures that centers will be following now in the classroom?
Centers should be consulting the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as their state and local government health departments.These guidelines should be checked regularly; they should be complying with all COVID-19 state and local regulations.
2. Is the center conducting health checks on its early childhood educators and other staff members to make sure they are healthy? What are the specific health checks being used for staff?
During these times, health check questions are the new normal. We also recommend consulting the Council’s Advisory Committee’s set of insights, perspectives and best practices, including drop-off procedures, guidance on the check in process and more.
3. How is the center keeping health-care practices updated, and how will parents know about the updates as they happen?
Again, centers should follow the guidelines provided by the CDC and state and local officials.
Educators and center directors are encouraged to build even stronger partnerships with families. These family engagements are based on ongoing, reciprocal communication. Depending on how the center communicates with families, the center may decide to send a daily or weekly communication via email or text. Parents can speak with the director to better understand the expectation for the frequency of communication.
4. What can a parent or guardian do to prepare a child as they reenter the center? What changes should a parent/guardian prepare a child for? Where are additional resources available?
Many children are seeing more and more adults and other children with masks on; however, it is difficult for young children to read facial expressions through a mask. So, adults should talk to children about why it is important that the child’s teacher wear a mask. Parents/guardians should discuss why the teacher will no longer be able to give them hugs and hold their hand. It is suggested that children keep personal items at home such as toys, games, and water bottles. Additional resources can be found on our website.
5. What type of training have the educators gone through? How do they know what to do in the classroom?
There are many pathways for staff to successfully work in a center. This time calls for even more patience and understanding on everyone’s part.
The Council is proud to say educators who have earned their Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential understand how to best work with children during uncertain times. At the direction of the center director, the educators will be provided the information to best serve the children.
The Council will continue to monitor developments as it relates to child care centers and will share resources when appropriate.