Bringing Kids Together Again
THE STATE WE ARE IN:
I saw a statistic this week that up to 97% of Americans are currently under some type of stay-at-home order. Of course, as adults, we are all adapting to this new reality (some may be better than others). But, it’s kids who are on my mind. The list of states who have canceled traditional school through June is growing and with these closures, we can add all forms of extracurriculars, recreation, and enrichment. All of that is now falling to parents who unfortunately are also busy with homeschooling, telecommuting, caring for families, cooking, cleaning, etc. Our KIT team members are helping each other bear the load by convening virtual storytime sessions, complete with hands-on craft activities and games, for our junior Inclusionistas.
I am also thinking about child care programs, where we do a good deal of our work at KIT. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) just released a fact sheet about the impact of the pandemic on child care programs. Nearly half of the centers and family child care homes in the US are closed. Programs that are providing care to children of essential employees and first responders are still operational. But, they are struggling.
THE STATE PROGRAMS ARE IN:
NAEYC’s April 2020 survey of 5,000 respondents showed that 85% of programs are operating at less than 50% of their enrollment capacity. The majority of those (65%) are operating at less than 25% of capacity. As a result, most programs are experiencing a dramatic reduction in revenue. This puts child care programs around the country at risk of not surviving this extended period of social distancing, and therefore not being there when restrictions relax and children need access to safe, reliable, high-quality care.
That’s not a very cheery message. But, it’s fueling my passion for advocacy. It’s important that Congress, as well as our local officials, invest in child care and early learning, so that our kids, including those with disabilities, have this to return to when the current health crisis is over. There are going to be a lot of needs to deal with as we recover.
I am focused on how
we are going to get
KIDS back to being