Back-to-school this year has been made all the more complicated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Working parents with school-age children are scrambling to find affordable, safe child care programs and remote learning sites in their communities to support their children’s education.
From our perspective, the best option for parents is licensed child care programs that have qualified staff who are trained and supported in meeting the extensive CDC health and safety guidelines to help keep children, staff, and families safe.
Licensed child care programs have always been required to meet robust health and safety standards that protect children’s well-being, such as criminal background checks for child care staff, ongoing health and safety training for staff, sanitation, building, and fire inspections, and staff to child ratios to ensure appropriate supervision. These licensing policies give parents the peace of mind that these programs are accountable and are doing everything they can to ensure the health and safety of children, staff, and families during this public health crisis.
The NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) has made it easy for families to locate licensed programs across the state by contacting a new child care hotline 1-888-600-1685 to connect families to available licensed child care program. Please see below to download flyers to share this information with your community!
Public schools are also stepping up to support students’ remote learning by partnering with community-based organizations like YMCAs/YWCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, Parks and Recreation Departments, and other local nonprofits. To facilitate this process, the NC Child Care Commission passed special emergency rules to allow public schools to contract with community-based organizations to serve as Remote Learning Facilities. When this happens, public schools and community-based organizations are required to meet the health and safety guidelines in the Strong Schools/NC Public Health Toolkit. Click here for more information.
The issue remains that there has never been adequate funding to support licensed child care programs, community-based organizations, and public schools to meet the needs of children and families for quality early education.
Now during this crisis, it is vitally important that policymakers step up to ensure that every child in every community has access to affordable school-age child care and remote learning educational opportunities.
We must all work together to make sure that in the urgency to support children and families and solve the school-age child care and remote learning crisis, we put the health and safety of children, families, and communities first. Community-based organizations must meet the health and safety standards required of all licensed child care providers.
We must call on our policymakers to maintain a quality licensed early education system and expand child care subsidy assistance to working families to ensure equitable opportunities for all children across the state.
During this legislative session, which is going to be fast – just two days – we will continue to make this case and be part of the solution to promote healthy and safe school-age child care and remote learning partnerships. Children are counting on us to be their champions. Stay tuned and join us in this important work to ensure all children have a sound basic education, starting in early childhood.