May 15 | Weekly Digest: COVID-19 Response & Recovery Coalition

Bright Beginnings Advocacy, Community

Emergency Response & Recovery Plan

As shelter-in-place mandates change, we must adapt to long-term physical distancing requirements. We in the world of child care and wellbeing are responding in new ways. We have moved from a tight focus on immediate needs to assessing and planning around future needs of both child care and education providers, and children and their families. Our goal is to ensure that the young children have quality, nurturing and safe child care and education as we adjust to physical distancing requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19.

For more information about the effort and the coalition behind it, please visit our web hub here. You’ll find an invitation to our weekly Tuesday morning community calls and minutes from the last two months.


This Week’s Highlights

A few highlights from this last week are shared below. Previous Weekly Digests are available here. On our next call, Tuesday, May 19 at 11:30am, we will provide a short update on progress and discuss priorities for the recovery phase. Please join us — all perspectives are important as we move forward together to support young children and their families.

For Early Childhood Educators 

  • Free COVID-19 testing is now available for everyone. Child care and education providers are strongly encouraged to get tested. Appointments are required. Register by clicking here or calling 888-634-1123. More information, including times and locations, can be found here on these posters — please post and share within your networks.
     
  • First 5 Monterey County is working with early child care and education providers in all settings (center and home based, licensed and informal) to provide bilingual mental health supports. These supports are for those providing care and education directly, as well as those that are supporting families remotely (e.g., home visitors), supporting almost 200 child care and education providers and administrators.
     
  • Health and Safety Training schedules for May have been posted by the Child Care Resource Center here. Quality Matters created a helpful video on implementing social distancing and other health and safety tips for programs open or about to open, found at the bottom of their COVID-19 resource page. We are supporting peer-learning as those that have remained open or have reopened are learning the ins-and-outs of safety measures (thank you Early Development Services). We are also collaborating to develop a series of resources for informal caregivers (also known as Family, Friends and Neighbors) as well.
     
  • About 120 providers have signed up for cleaning and supplies reimbursements through MAOF Resource & Referral (R&R). Monterey County received $494,000 for Cleaning & Supplies for Childcare Providers (CSCP), legislated through Senate Bill 89 COVID-19 Early Learning and Care Response Funds (administrative guidelines). Funds are available one time only per provider. For more information and to complete the required self-certification form for child care and education providers, call (831) 757-0775. The form is available here.
     
  • We are seeing more and more centers getting ready to reopen. We are coordinating additional supports so that administrators and educators have what they need to feel safe and ready to provide quality experiences to the children they care for. This includes exploring creative solutions for financial supports as the already stretched child care business model changes to meet physical distancing requirements, such as lower enrollment rates.
     
  • The MCOE Early Learning Program will serve approximately 500 children in a summer program, funded through Head Start.

For Essential Works & Families

  • COVID-19 related resources for families with young children including services, activities, and more are available at: MontereyCountyChildCare.org & First 5 Monterey County.
     
  • Monterey County received additional state funds for emergency child care for essential workers, legislated through Senate Bill 89 COVID-19 Early Learning and Care Response Funds and administered by MAOF Alternative Payment voucher program. Essential worker families can request child care here or call (831) 757-0775. To date, we have been able to serve about 150 additional children through these funds.
     
  • Community partners are working with MAOF Resource & Referral and Alternative Payment Program to redesign the enrollment process for child care vouchers and state funded services, so that it is easier to navigate and response times are shorter. Parents can request a child care referral here, or call (831) 757-0775.
     
  • We are seeing the “Find Child Care” blue badge (like the one at the top of this digest) on more and more of our partner’s websites. You too can have a badge that links to www.MontereyCountyChildCare.org with the most up-to-date information. Find a flyer for finding care and other bilingual promotional materials, including the badge, here.
     
  • We are hearing that child care stress is increasing for most families, regardless of work status and age of children. Parents are relying on older children to support the care of younger children, potentially distracting students from their own learning needs. As more parents are going back to work, struggling to meet work-loads while sheltering-in-place, and summer break for school nears, the need for informal child care solutions that meet recommendations for physical distancing is rapidly increasing. The coalition will work with local and state agencies to ensure that solutions are doable and safe.

General

  • United Way is dispersing about $699,000 in CARES Act emergency relief funds for agencies that provide food and shelter services. Apply here by May 20.
     
  • United Way launched an early learning fund to support child care during COVID-19. Check out the video here. Please share with your networks — donations accepted on an ongoing basis.
     
  • We are coordinating deeper outreach to employers and the business community (especially in agriculture) on how they can support families with children during the COVID response precautions. To name a few, we’ve reached the Ag Commission, Strawberry Commission, Grower-Shipper Association, SEIU, Montage, Natividad, and Salinas Valley Memorial.
     
  • A challenge for educators at all ages is adjusting to physical distancing requirements. Child care centers and schools will need to coordinate closely so that we meet the learning environment needs for children of all ages (i.e., enough classrooms).

It Takes a Coalition 

The emergency response providing coordinated solutions for child care and education is led by a coalition of early childhood champions, united under the Bright Beginnings Strategic Framework to better support all young children and their families, to prepare every child for life and school. This coalition is ever-growing:

4th Monterey County Supervisorial District
30th California Assembly District
Building Healthy Communities
CAPSLO
Carmel Unified School District
Child Care Planning Council
Child Development Centers and Continuing Development Incorporated
Children’s Council
Early Development Services
First 5 Monterey County
Go Kids, Inc.
Health Department
MAOF Resource & Referral & Alternative Payment Program
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
Natividad Medical Center
North Monterey County Unified School District
Office of Education – Early Learning Program
Office of Education – Educational Services
Public Health Office
Quality Matters
Salinas City Elementary School District
Social Services – Child Abuse Prevention Council
United Farmworkers Foundation
United Way of Monterey County
YMCA

A special thanks to the coordinating team and major funders: Bright Beginnings Backbone, Child Care Planning Council, First 5 Monterey County, MAOF Resource & Referral, Quality Matters, and the United Way of Monterey County.

For more information, please contact sonja@brightbeginningsmc.org.