By Paula Drew, We Care for Dane Kids and WEESSN- Dane Co. Project Manager

What has become abundantly clear to the nation these past few weeks (though we’ve known all along) is that early care and education is an essential service that holds up all others. While many small businesses closed to fight the spread of COVID-19, it was apparent that child care was in a league of its own. At-risk children and those whose parents are working in other “essential positions” without alternative care, need safe and healthy places to be during this emergency. We have been in touch with many of you throughout the state and are in awe of the brilliance, strength and grace you have brought to this situation. We have heard your call for needed funding, supplies and expertise to both help you deal with your current situation and for the long haul. In collaboration with other state and national partners, we have been advocating on your behalf to ensure that the early care and education sector has what it needs to weather this storm.

Here is what is currently being advocated for:

  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recently released a position statement on early care and education during COVID-19. This statement gives recommendations to states about what they can do to stop the spread of the virus and to support the early care and education sector.
  • Many of the nation’s leading child advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congress detailing essential recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they develop an economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 crisis. They ask that:
    • Child care providers who are closed have access to federal funding that will allow them to pay staff and cover fixed costs, including but not limited to business interruption grants.
    • Providers who are staying open during the crisis have the support necessary to do so and that the children attending their programs – particularly children of first responders, health care providers, and other essential personnel – are receiving assistance.
    • The government sustain the market today and into the future by providing assistance to child care as any other small business receiving relief.
  • CLASP urges congress to remember that parents and caregivers will need cash supports, paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave, and nutrition supports such as enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. And when the crisis is over, parents and caregivers will need child care to support their search for work if they have lost employment. Therefore, policymakers should support expanded CCDBG eligibility to help families get back on their feet.

We are in uncharted territory and each day seems to bring something new. While we try to keep you informed, we also want to encourage you to advocate, speak up and share your story. NAEYC writes, “child care programs, across states and settings, need significant investments if they are going to survive—and this moment has made it clear how essential it is for child care to do so, for the good of children, families, businesses, and our nation’s safety, security, and economy (pg. 2)”. We are here for you, we support you, and we need you!

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