A few months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) surveyed Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies. In response to the survey, 163 CCR&R professionals from 41 states relayed the most pressing concerns they are hearing from child care providers. Locating and purchasing disinfecting supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) were among the top 5 concerns.
Like no other time in the history of child care, coronavirus (COVID-19) is challenging child care professionals to make difficult decisions about closing their programs temporarily and then determining when and how to reopen. These decisions are critical to protecting the health and safety of all enrolled children and their families as well as program staff and their household members.
Aside from state/local mandates for child care programs, reopening decisions are complicated by numerous factors: Will children be enrolled who have easily compromised immune system health or who have conditions, like asthma, that put them at enhanced risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes if exposed to the virus? Are child care program staff comfortable with potentially being on the front lines of coronavirus as they are in close quarters with children when providing care? Can cleaning, sanitizing and personal protective equipment be sourced and will it be affordable for child care programs for as long as it is needed? How do continuously shifting community transmission rates and many other COVID-19 unknowns factor in to decision making to re-open doors to children and their families?
The COVID-19 situation and its impact are fluid, changing from day to day. There are many uncertainties regarding child care and child care operations, and child care professionals at both the program and system level must be nimble in their response to the pandemic. They must lean on and build upon the strengths that have served them well and will continue to serve them well during COVID-19 and beyond: relationship-based practices and data-driven decision making.
CCR&R staff play a key role in supporting caregivers in child care programs during the response and recovery phases. In-person visits have traditionally been an essential aspect of providing support services to child care providers, yet during the COVID-19 recovery phase these visits have likely been suspended in an effort to ensure the protection of children, caregivers, families and CCR&R staff. Organizations that offer in-person support visits should consult with the local and state health departments before reintroducing this service.
Over the past week, I have been inspired by the eloquent words of so many of my colleagues across our field who are also committed to the health and promise of each and every child, individual, family and community.
Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies and providers have contacted Child Care Aware® of America with questions about how to ensure their programs are properly cleaned and ready when child care programs reopen.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. In short, cleaning means removing dirt or germs from a surface; sanitizing refers to reducing the number of pathogens or bacteria on that cleaned surface; disinfecting kills all bacteria on hard, non-porous surfaces. The distinction between the three can seem blurry, so we have gathered some of the most helpful links from partners in public health to ensure you are ready and prepared.