“This time has been scary and we have been doing our best to adapt to these changes but there are definitely many concerns and struggles as we move forward!” – Alexis Duquette from Putney.
Alexis is a mother of four children and was one of many parents and providers who responded to BBF’s call for feedback about pressures families are facing.
Below are 3 ways that BBF is supporting families through the coronavirus crisis right now.
1. Gathering input from families and those who work with families to share with legislators and state agencies.
This week BBF turned to our Families and Communities committee, Parent Ambassadors, Regional Coordinators and Head Start partners. BBF compiled this input and Morgan Crossman, BBF’s Executive Director, shared with the Senate Health and Welfare Committee about the reopening of childcare and pressures on families.
We were overwhelmed with the response and so appreciative for the time families, and those who work with families, took to share the challenges they are facing. There are a range of considerations families are navigating as they make decisions around returning to child care. Here is a bit of what we heard and you can read the full testimony here.
- Financial & Capacity Concerns-Some families relinquished their child care slot due to financial pressures caused by unemployment, and others have been paying for slots that they may or may not be able to return to when needed, child cares may reduce hours of operations as well there remain major gaps and uncertainty around availability of summer care for school age children.
- Health and safety of their child-Many families expressed very real health concerns because childcare is a high contact profession. Children will need lots of hugs and comfort as they weather this transition.
- Child social-emotional needs & developmental needs during the transition-Families want to support their child through this confusing time and as childcare reopens, routines and health guidance will be an adjustment. Families and providers acknowledge just how hard it is for young children to physically distance as is recommended in the health guidance.
- Parent decision-making & pressure-Families trying to work from home are dividing their attention in what feels there is no win-win for them, their children or employers. Financial pressures, juggling unemployment, changing schedules as employers bring back workers slowly, new waves of layoffs, or if they have family who can help with childcare. All of this makes it difficult for families to both afford childcare and know what they need to commit to paying for a slot for the summer or the next year.
- Vulnerable children: some of Vermont’s most vulnerable children continue to self-isolate at home and cannot re-enter child care or other community activities. This is impacting children across the age spectrum; infants through school age and their families.
2. Providing information specifically for families on health guidance with a focus on returning to child care through a video with Dr. Breena Holmes, Pediatrician and Vermont’s Maternal and Child Health Director.
As a parent, we seek reliable information to make decisions whether it is to let our children play with others in the neighborhood, to return to childcare, camps and if we can return to work. One of the hardest things about life during this coronavirus crisis is that things change quickly. This week BBF partnered with Dr. Breena Holmes and Let’s Grow Kids to record a video for families on health guidance, particularly as child care and summer programs prepare to open. You can view that video here.
3. A virtual forum with information on supporting children through transitions during this crisis
We have also heard (and experienced personally) how hard it is to stay emotionally stable ourselves and support our children’s emotional needs. Now as things start to open, we face anxiety about further transitions. Attending to adult and child mental health is really hard with financial and work stressors.
To help families understand early childhood development, behaviors you may be seeing in your children and to support transitions back to activities, BBF is hosting an Early Childhood Forum on Mental Health next week geared to families on supporting children through transitions during the coronavirus crisis. The forum is on Wednesday, May 27th from 1:00-1:45. We partnered with the Department of Mental Health and will hear from guests with expertise in child development and mental health. Click here for details and registration.
We are committed to support children, families, and public and private partners as we collectively navigate the reopening of our communities including child care, camps and work. BBF’s mission is to improve the well-being of children and families in Vermont by using evidence to inform policy and bringing voices together across sectors and within regions to discuss critical challenges and problem-solve. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to serve in this role and provide the most up-to-date, high quality information we can to decision-makers and to communities. Thank you for your partnership.