Ten days ago none of us were expecting the impact that the coronavirus COVID-19 would have on our local child care community. The rate of change has been intense and bewildering. A decision we might think is a good one in the morning, changes by the afternoon as new information rises.
I have noticed one area of my work that is transforming in a different way. Collaborations with Boulder County Public Health and Boulder County Housing and Human Services are, well, sort of blossoming. There is much to do on behalf of our local early childhood community – parents in mission critical fields such as hospital staff, police and fire, and mental health agencies need reliable high quality child care so they can continue serving us. At the same time, child care providers need assistance mitigating risk and interpreting guidance for making unprecedented business decisions about closures. Human services alliances across Boulder County are really connecting to make the best decisions to serve and support our community, more so right now than ever. And these two teams at BCPH and BCDHHS feel like real friends of the council at this time.
The situation is sobering for child care. The COVID-19 crisis is brutally laying bare certain gaps in the early childhood system. Namely, the struggle we are having connecting licensed child care providers that remain open with families that need them. Secondly, fears regarding the retention of a local child care workforce are real. For connection, there are two places parents and providers can email: firstname.lastname@example.org and go to covidchildcarecolorado.com. For retention of the early childhood workforce, community partners are figuring out employment and income supports in the short term. In the longer term, we may be looking at new landscape with fewer licensed child care options. Regardless, the approximate 14,000 young children 0 – 5 years old will still be here in Boulder County and their parents will still be securing some mix of child care in all types of arrangements. As COVID-19 evolves and passes (this too shall pass) we’ll have a clearer view of early care and education sector’s role in the well-being and development of our community. Stay tuned with the council, we’ll be working on these issues with our friends. We welcome you to join us. www.eccbouldercounty.org