Excerpted from the recommendations
The COVID-19 crisis has revealed how much our nation relies on early care and education services in order for other workforces to function, yet chronic disregard for early educators’ well-being has essentially rendered their needs invisible. Most child care professionals are women, and in some communities, they are mostly women of color. Many of them are terrified of getting COVID-19 and dying, they are terrified of the risk to their own families and those in their care, and they are terrified of losing their livelihoods. They have every right to be frightened.
As almost all K-12 schools across the nation are shuttered — along with parks, playgrounds, and other community recreation areas — child care programs in most states remain open. Early educators across the country report stress, confusion, and dismay about policies related to program closures, resources, and emergency care. “We’ve been an afterthought through this whole crisis,” said Kyra Swenson, a preschool teacher in Wisconsin. “Our governor proclaimed he was closing schools because we need to protect educators and children and their families.” When child care was told to stay open, she said, “We’re sitting here thinking, ‘What do you think we are, and what do you think we do?’”
By failing to provide realistic guidance and resources to safely offer emergency care and by failing to ensure that early educators’ salaries and benefits (including health coverage) will be maintained if programs are closed, we put early educators at risk — as well as the families and communities that they serve. To retain and then shore up our early care and education infrastructure, Congress must act, and act now, to ensure the safety and well-being of early educators, children, and their communities and to stabilize the sector so that it survives this crisis and is available to support the workforce at large when this emergency is declared over.
As congressional representatives and policy leaders call for a relief fund of at least $50 billion for early care and education, we have identified a set of recommendations, intended to be undertaken together, that help protect the lives of early educators and their communities and prioritize getting financial relief directly to child care programs and staff. Linked below, we have made available a series of resources to help stakeholders understand the severity of this crisis.