RIght from the Start is a legislative and state budget campaign to advance policies for young children and their families in Rhode Island. While Rhode Island has much to offer, the reality is too many families struggle to support their young children during the critical early years of brain development. Rhode Island needs sustainable state funding and must raise additional state revenue for programs and policies that support families and their children from prenatal to Pre-K. These investments will pay dividends for our children’s success and our state’s economy for years to come.
Rhode Island’s early childhood system provides essential supports for families with young children during normal times and many parts of the system are continuing during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s a summary of the information we have as of April 1, 2020:
- Rhode Island’s Family Home Visiting System has transitioned to virtual home visits with pregnant women, new parents, and families with young children. Visits provide guidance and support, including strategies to promote healthy development at home and connection to community resources. For more information or to schedule a visit, call 222-5960, text baby to 444999, or visit health.ri.gov/familyvisiting/. Also check out the Family Visiting RI Facebook page.
- Rhode Island’s Early Head Start and Head Start programs have closed all of their center-based classrooms and have transitioned to distance learning and virtual home visits to provide comprehensive services for children from birth through kindergarten entry. Programs are delivering formula, diapers, and food to families along with books and learning materials to use at home. Teaching teams are hosting virtual classrooms with children and working with their LEAs Special Education Teachers to continue to provide individual education plans as needed. Visit www.kids.ri.gov for a list of Early Head Start and Head Start programs in Rhode Island.
- Rhode Island’s Early Intervention system is open for business. Programs are accepting referrals and have transitioned to virtual home visits, providing strategies and support for families to help infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities. Visit www.kids.ri.gov for a list of Early Intervention providers.
- School districts are providing remote preschool special education services to children who have developmental delays and disabilities. Visit www.kids.ri.gov for information about early childhood special education and a list of district early childhood special education coordinators.
- Rhode Island’s Pre-K programs have shut down their physical classrooms but are providing remote learning for all enrolled children and are making weekly check-in calls to families to provide support. The state has extended the deadline to apply for RI Pre-K expansion classrooms to 4:00 p.m. on April 10. Visit www.ride.ri.gov for more information.
- Rhode Island’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Temporary Caregivers Insurance (TCI) Programs are providing essential partial wage replacement to individuals who are staying home from work due to COVID 19. See this fact sheet and visit www.dlt.ri.gov for more information about filing a claim for TDI/TCI or Unemployment Insurance.
- Rhode Island’s community-based child care and early learning system is currently closed and is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The child care and early learning field needs continued support so that short-term closures do not turn into permanent closures. Many of Rhode Island’s 3,000 early childhood and afterschool educators are out of work. Funding and logistical problems are making it difficult for community-based child care programs to support families safely and remotely.
The RIght from the Start Steering Committee:
Supports Governor Raimondo’s Current Plan for Child Care During the Crisis
To help limit community spread of the coronavirus, on March 29th Governor Raimondo ordered the closure of Rhode Island’s child care programs for a one-week period, March 30th – April 4th. This policy aligns with guidance from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Center for the Child Care Workforce. The Governor has announced a partnership with www.care.com to help families find qualified and screened individuals to come into their homes to provide child care, elder care, and other help. Visit www.care.com/rineed to find child care and www.care.com/rigive to provide child care.
Advocates for Strong Funding & Support for Child Care Programs During the Crisis
We urge a robust package of state and federal support for the child care programs that are closed and strong oversight, funding, and support for any programs that provide care to essential workers during the pandemic. Recent passage of the federal CARES Act will bring approximately $8 million in funding to Rhode Island for child care. Rhode Island Early Head Start and Head Start programs will also receive some additional federal funding from CARES Act.
Specifically, we ask that Rhode Island continue to use a combination of state and federal resources to maintain existing Child Care Assistance Program payments to child care programs throughout the crisis, with coverage of parent co-pays. We urge Rhode Island to disseminate clear information and provide support to all child care programs so educators can receive Unemployment Insurance. Specific information is needed for non-profits and self-employed child care providers who have not contributed to UI. Individuals that provide child care for essential workers should earn wages at “hazard pay” levels and not have to rely on public benefits to feed their own families.
Urges Passage of a Strong State Budget to Strengthen Our Early Childhood System
The RIght from the Start state legislative and budget agenda is designed to ensure that ALL Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, get off to the right start in life. Programs and services for families with young children are essential to the recovery of our state and nation.
Steering Committee: Beautiful Beginnings, Economic Progress Institute, Latino Policy Institute, RI Association for the Education of Young Children, RI Association for Infant Mental Health, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
We hope you are staying safe and healthy during this time of crisis.
This is an extraordinary time with many unknowns. We are checking in to share what we do know and offering support to Rhode Island’s early childhood programs and professionals. We will continue to communicate often and share updates.
Governor Raimondo and the Department of Human Services (DHS) are advising that child care centers remain closed. To prevent community spread of the virus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible.
We expect the Governor’s office and DHS will share additional information soon about emergency child care options for “essential workers” who have no other option for child care during this public health crisis.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
We are joining our colleagues across the country in the request for up to $50 billion in emergency stimulus funding to keep the child care industry from collapsing. Since the Congressional situation is fluid and field engagement is critical, a number of the national organizations are working together to organize.
Join in the #FundChildCare #ChildCareNow Twitter Storm Monday, March 23rd to urge Congress to #FundChildCare. Now. Click here to see how to contact the Rhode Island Congressional delegation. Twitter handles are @SenJackReed, @SenWhitehouse, @JimLangevin, @RepCicilline. Include them in your tweets. Keep tweeting all day!
Finally, tell your Rhode Island state legislators to support the RIght from the Start agenda including $7.5 million to increase funding for the Rhode Island Child Care Assistance Program to meet federal standards and the Early Educator Workforce Investment Act to develop a plan to raise wages for our early childhood educators.
Thank you for all you are doing for children, families and for each other.
RIght from the Start
Rhode Island and the nation are facing the unprecedented impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These are difficult and uncertain times for everyone, including Rhode Island’s workforce of approximately 3,000 early childhood educators who work in child care programs across the state.
On March 15th, Governor Raimondo asked that all Rhode Island child care centers close to help limit community spread of the coronavirus. Our child care programs have complied with this request and it is not yet clear when they will be able to reopen. Rhode Island child care programs are committed to making sure it is safe for their staff, their staff’s families, and for the families of the children they serve before they resume regular operations.
This situation is creating a crisis for our child care programs, our early childhood and afterschool educators, and working families across the state.
Without immediate state and federal action, short-term closures of child care programs may turn into permanent closures. This will have devastating impacts on early childhood and afterschool educators, many of whom make less than $12 per hour, and our state’s ability to provide high quality, affordable child care options to working families.
We need your help! Contact your federal and state legislators today!
Contact Congress – As Congress considers a far-reaching economic stimulus package in response to this crisis, click here to contact your lawmakers in Washington and urge them to include robust support for the industry that makes it possible for millions of working parents to go to work each day: child care.
Contact Rhode Island State Legislators – Click here to contact your Rhode Island state legislators. Urge them to support the RIght from the Start agenda including $7.5 million to increase funding for the Rhode Island Child Care Assistance Program to meet federal standards and the Early Educator Workforce Investment Act to develop a plan to raise wages for our early childhood educators.
We will get through the coronavirus pandemic! With your help our early childhood educators and child care centers will come through ready to once again serve Rhode Island’s working families and ALL of our kids who deserve to get off to the right start in life.
RIght from the Start
Stuck in the house and looking for ideas to keep young children busy during the COVID-19 pandemic? Katy Chu of our campaign partner Rhode Island KIDS COUNT has some creative and fun resources for parents.
Our campaign partner, The Economic Progress Institute, has put together this great fact sheet for workers impacted by COVID-19 and how to apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI).
Watch this great Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC) video on the critical role child care workers play and the need to raise wages for our state’s workforce of early childhood educators.
High-quality early childhood programs have effective educators who know how to work with children and families to support young children’s rapid brain development. However, many early educators earn wages that are at the bottom of the occupational ladder ($12/hour for child care teachers). Here’s a great infographic on the issue and the need to raise wages for Rhode Island’s early childhood educators.
We have an incredible group of non-profit and advocacy organizations supporting our early childhood education and health campaign agenda to ensure that ALL Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, get off to the right start in life. If you or your organization are interested in becoming a RIght from the Start Campaign Champion and advocating for our legislative agenda, please fill out this form.
Current RIght from the Start Campaign Champions:
American Academy of Pediatrics, Rhode Island Chapter
Books Are Wings
The Children’s Workshop
Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP)
Dr. Day Care
Nowell Leadership Academy
Parents Leading for Educational Equity
Reach Out And Read Rhode Island
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association
YMCA of Pawtucket
Wow! What an amazing turnout at the State House for the official kickoff of our RIght from the Start campaign! From state leaders and dozens of legislators to many parents and community organizations, our kickoff spotlighted a package of legislation and state budget investments that will ensure ALL Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, get off to the right start in life. A start where all young mothers have healthy births, where new parents have the precious time needed to bond with their babies, and affordable, high quality child care, Pre-K, and early learning options are available across our state.
Thanks for getting our campaign off to a great start!
Help us keep the momentum going by taking take two minutes to use our electronic advocacy tool to contact your state legislators! Tell them to support the RIght from the Start agenda!