RIght from the Start is a legislative and budget campaign to advance state policies for young children and their families in Rhode Island. During the COVID-19 crisis, it has become even more clear that policies and programs that help families with young children are essential for a strong economy and public health. Investments now will help our state and Rhode Island’s young children and families weather this crisis and emerge stronger on the other side.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Rhode Island Chapter wants families to know that pediatricians’ offices are open, safe, and ready to see children for well-child visits, vaccinations, and other children’s health issues. Call your pediatrician with any questions you may have, and make an appointment if needed. We look forward to seeing you. #ThinkBabies
Child care programs have always operated on razor-thin margins to provide quality care while keeping tuition costs as affordable as possible for parents. For many child care providers in Rhode Island and across the nation, the past three months have dealt programs a substantial financial blow as they had to close to slow the spread of the virus and are now reopening and operating under strict health and safety requirements that add to the cost of care.
Now, more than ever, children are in need of consistent and nurturing caregiving and access to early childhood, afterschool, and summer learning opportunities. Parents are in desperate need of safe options so they can return to work. Rhode Island needs to maintain a stable supply of healthy, safe, and quality child care options.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Congressman Bobby Scott, and Senator Patty Murray recently introduced the Child Care is Essential Act (H.R.7027/S.3874) to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund within the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), providing critical support to families, child care providers, and our state’s economy.
Safe, healthy, and high-quality child care options are essential for Rhode Island’s economic recovery and public health. That’s why it’s so critical that state leaders continue to invest in our child care programs and better wages for our early childhood educators.
Racial discrimination and implicit bias sadly result in the unequal treatment of black women in our medical system and drive health inequality. In Rhode Island, black women are 42% more likely to experience a severe complication at delivery than white women, and the infant mortality rate for black infants is three times that of white infants. These statistics are unacceptable and unnecessary.
Fortunately, Rhode Island is developing a strong network of community-based doulas, like Latisha Michel of Ready Set Latch Go in Newport, dedicated to helping expecting moms through their pregnancy, birth, and the first months with their newborn child’s life. Research has shown that these services help to improve health outcomes for new moms and their babies.
That’s why RIght from the Start is urging the legislature to make doula services eligible for reimbursement through Medicaid and private insurance and investing in building, supporting, and sustaining our doula workforce. These services and investments should be targeted toward communities most impacted by these disparities.
Here’s Latisha’s story of empowering and helping new mom’s through pregnancy, the birthing process, and postpartum care:
Empowering Expecting Moms, Addressing Health Equity Issues, and Improving Health Outcomes
“I’ve been a certified doula for 2 years now, helping dozens of moms through their pregnancy and birth, but I still cry tears of joy every time I’m in the delivery room experiencing the miracle of life with a new mom I’ve helped through their journey. It’s the most amazing feeling to truly empower moms, see them safely through their delivery, and the early months of taking care of their new babies. I love what I do.
I decided to become a certified doula because I didn’t feel informed, in control, or empowered during any of my own pregnancies. No new mom should feel that way navigating our health care system through what should be a safe, healthy, and joyful process.
That’s why I started Ready Set Latch Go. Ready: informing expecting moms about their options and how I can support them through their pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early postpartum period. Set- creating a birth plan, connecting and coordinating with health care providers, providing labor and birth support, and helping expecting moms navigate and connect to needed services. Latch: breast/bottle feeding support and education. Go: postpartum care, emotional support, and helping new moms connect with educational, health, child care, and other services.
A recent mom I helped is a great example of the services doulas provide. I connected with Kayla during her second trimester of her first baby. She hadn’t heard of doulas before, so we had several conversations about how I could support her through her pregnancy, birthing process, and postpartum care. Once she felt comfortable, she asked me to be her doula. I educated Kayla on comforting measures to make her pregnancy and birth more comfortable, coached the father on comforting and support techniques, and empowered her to make her own choices about delivery and pain management options. I was with her in the hospital at the birth of her beautiful, healthy, baby boy.
After the delivery, Kayla told me ‘Thank you for supporting me through this. I would never have known all my options.’
That’s what it’s all about. Empowering mom’s through their pregnancy, birthing process, and postpartum period of child bonding.
I’m still in touch with Kayla and have helped her connect with job opportunities, health care services, and educational programs. She’s even become a powerful community advocate for expanding doula services so other expecting moms can be empowered through their journey.
I know the services we provide work and improve health outcomes for the moms and newborns we serve. The health care system is starting to recognize the powerful role we can play, and that’s why it’s time for Medicaid and private insurance to cover doula services as a smart investment in improving health equity for all expecting moms.”
Today, May 20th is Strolling Thunder Rhode Island and Child Care Day 2020! Although we can’t physically make it to the State House, that’s not stopping our army of parents and cute kids from “virtually strolling” to push for policies and legislation to ensure that ALL Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, get off to the right start in life.
The Providence Journal has a wonderful story on the work of Rhode Island’s doulas helping expecting mothers through the birth process, even during these difficult times.
For Susie Finnerty, a doula and co-president of the organization Doulas of Rhode Island, the policy at Women & Infants Hospital shows a recognition of the services doulas provide that is still an outlier among many hospitals in the region.
“They’re not just considering doulas visitors, they’re considering them as part of the medical team,” she said.
In Rhode Island, Black women are 42% more likely to experience a severe complication at delivery than White women. The infant mortality rate for Black infants in Rhode Island is three times that of White infants. A key strategy to address this issue is making doula services eligible for reimbursement through Medicaid and private insurance and investing in building, supporting, and sustaining the doula workforce and infrastructure in the state. These services and investments should be targeted toward communities most impacted by these disparities.
Haga clic aquí para leer invitacion en español.
Calling families with children ages 0 to 3 to participate in Strolling Thunder 2020! Even as we face an unprecedented health and economic crisis, all Rhode Island kids, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, or family income, deserve to get off the right start in life.
As news about COVID-19 has evolved, we have decided to change this year’s Strolling Thunder to a virtual event happening through social media on May 20, 2020! Please join us by sending a photo of your family with a baby in a stroller so we can share it on social media and connect you with your elected representatives in the General Assembly and Congress.
We would also like to know a little bit about you and the reasons you support these policies. By sharing your personal experiences (we’ve included simple prompts in the registration form), you’ll educate your policymakers on how the priorities below would impact families across RI.
- More funding for child care so that programs can meet health, safety, and quality standards when they reopen, while being affordable for essential workers and the general public. Child care is essential and programs need extensive support to reopen and operate safely.
- More funding for family home visiting programs to continue virtual support to parents and drop off of resources needed by families with new babies and young children at home. Programs like Healthy Families, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers can be a lifeline for families.
- Strategies to raise the wages of early educators in child care and home visiting programs. Professionals who work with our youngest children should not earn poverty-level wages.
Click here to learn more about the RIght from the Start Campaign’s policy priorities.
How can I participate?
- Submit a photo of your family with your child(ren) ages 0 to 3 in a stroller and complete the participation form by Sunday, May 17th. We’ll put our event frame on your photo and send it back to you. To join our virtual Strolling Thunder RI event, you can make it your profile image AND share it in a Facebook/Twitter post on Wednesday, May 20th!. Haga clic aquí para registrarse en español.
- Share this invite with your network, sign up for the RIght from the Start newsletter, and follow RIght From the Start on social media.
A gift to say thank you!
We have eighty $25 Amazon e-gift cards to share with families who participate by sending a photo and completing the participation. We’re hoping to receive a photo from all 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island – from Burrillville to Little Compton and Westerly to Woonsocket. The first family to submit from each city/town will receive an e-gift card as a thank you for participating. We will offer remaining gift cards to families who submit their photo and participation form early. We hope this gift card helps your family during this difficult time.
Click here to see photos from last year’s event. We are disappointed that we are not able to gather in-person this year, and we look forward to seeing your photo submissions.
RIght from the Start
RIght From the Start Campaign
RIght from the Start is a campaign to advance policies for young children and their families in Rhode Island. RIght from the Start Steering Committee members include Beautiful Beginnings, Economic Progress Institute, Latino Policy Institute, Rhode Island Association for Infant Mental Health, Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, and Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association..
Think Babies Rhode Island
Think Babies Rhode Island is part of a national movement to advance state policies benefiting infants and toddlers. We are working to improve access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers, paid family leave, evidence-based family home visiting, regular and routine developmental screenings with access to Early Intervention and other needed services, including infant, early childhood, and family mental health services. Strolling Thunder is made possible in partnership with Think Babies Rhode Island and Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
The Department of Human Services and the Office of Child Care have released a number of new policies and draft regulations related to the goal of reopening Rhode Island’s child care programs by June 1st. This page is meant as a resource for child care providers and early childhood educators by providing links to RIght from the Start recommendations, DHS information, CDC guidelines, and surveys to provide feedback, questions, and concerns about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DHS Communications, Policies & Draft Regulations
- Temporary Rate Enhancements during COVID-19 – Reopening Licensed Center Child Care Weekly Rates (June 1 – August 28, 2020)
- Temporary Rate Enhancements during COVID-19 – Reopening Licensed Family Child Care Weekly Rates (June 1 – August 28, 2020) / En español
- COVID-19 Re-opening Plan – Frequently Asked Questions / En español
- COVID-19 Child Care Plan Form – En español
- Draft Emergency Regulations
Reopening During the COVID-19 Pandemic DHS and BrightStars Provider Survey
Family home visiting programs like Healthy Families America and Nurse-Family Partnership are helping Rhode Island children and parents thrive by connecting them with health care, housing, nutrition, and educational resources. We need to invest $1.3 million in state and federal funding to sustain these programs that are proven to help build more strong, healthy families today and save costs over time.
Here’s a powerful profile of Blackstone Valley Community Action Program, Healthy Families home visitor Stayshia’s work helping a family address health and housing issues:
Family Home Visiting Helps a Family Through Health and Housing Challenges
“Being a family home visitor is incredibly rewarding. Every day I get to help parents and their children connect to the supports and resources they need to thrive. Most of the families we serve face many hurdles, and it’s my job to help them overcome these circumstances so they can be great parents and give their children the start in life they deserve.
We try to meet every family where they are and address their unique needs. That can mean helping mothers dealing with postpartum depression, providing guidance on talking and reading to their babies, coordinating doctor visits, to providing healthy foods and nutrition best practices.
We do this work in families homes, online, and over the phone. With the coronavirus pandemic we’ve moved most of our work to online and phone check-ins and we’re grateful we can still be there for our families during this difficult time.
There are countless examples of our work changing families lives for the better, but one for me really stands out. A young mother was living in a less than ideal apartment and after connecting her children with a pediatrician, we learned both had lead poisoning. We worked to get the children immediate treatment and to find the family a safer new home. Today, both children are healthy and doing well in public school, and the whole family is in safe, stable housing.
That’s what being a family home visitor is all about and why I urge the General Assembly to maintain funding for proven, evidence-based programs like Healthy Families America so we can continue to improve the lives of families and children who may be struggling.”
We thank Governor Gina Raimondo, Department of Human Services Director Courtney Hawkins, and Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, for their leadership during this unprecedented public health crisis and all they have done to keep Rhode Islanders, including Rhode Island’s children and families healthy and safe.
Rhode Island has been recognized nationally for having strong health care policies and systems and has been described as having implemented some of the most successful distance learning strategies in the U.S. while school buildings are closed to slow the spread of the virus. The state’s Head Start, Early Head Start, Family Home Visiting, Early Intervention, Preschool Special Education and RI Pre-K programs are also implementing distance learning plans and remote telehealth while schools and community-based early learning and child care facilities are closed.
The Steering Committee of the RIght from the Start Campaign is sharing information, guiding principles, and recommendations about the child care system for decisionmakers to consider with the hope that our state can serve as a model for other states as policymakers consider the reopening and rebuilding of the child care and early learning system.
In Rhode Island, the Governor advised closure of all child care facilities on March 15 and mandated closure on March 29 by suspending all child care licenses through April 30, aligned with decisions made about closing public schools. On April 23, the Governor announced that all public schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Data released by the Rhode Island Department of Human Services shows that 70% of the staff at licensed child care programs have been laid off. Survey respondents reported concerns that families may not return when programs reopen and programs will be challenged to meet the health and safety guidelines for reopening.
Rhode Island made the important decision to keep making the Child Care Assistance Program payments to programs with payments based on enrollment, not attendance and waiving parent co-pays during the period of closure. Sixty-six percent of respondents to the DHS survey said this decision was critical to the survival of the child care system.
Our state has received positive recognition from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment for taking early steps to advise and then mandate the closure of group child care programs and partnering with service provider to help families find and hire an in-home caregiver (a consistent person to provide care in the child’s home), as a safer method of providing child care for essential workers. Several other states have followed our lead by helping families find and use in-the-child’s-home care by providing access to a service to match families with providers and to allow families to use child care subsidies for in-home care.
A recent national survey of programs shows that across the U.S., including states that did not mandate closure of child care programs or restrict enrollment, about half of child care programs are completely closed and another 17% are closed to all but essential workers. Of programs that are still open, many are serving only small numbers of children with 65% reporting that they were operating at 25% of their licensed capacity. A recent national survey of working parents found that 75% of parents are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 when returning to child care, 47% are concerned about affording the cost of child care, and 46% are concerned that they won’t be able to use the same child care provider.
Priorities & Guiding Principles for Decision Makers:
Experts predict the pandemic to continue for quite some time and include cycles where state governments lift and then restore social distancing and infection control restrictions. We offer the following guiding principles and priorities as the state develops plans to reopen group child care programs, including summer programs for school-age children.
1. Rhode Island’s first priority should be to continue to ensure the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of children, early care and education staff, and the families of children and early care and education staff.
2. The virus is already having a disproportionate impact on low-wage workers and people of color. We must consider economic and racial equity issues as we consider who has access to safer in-the-child’s home child care and group care and who is working in child care and early learning programs.
3. We must be aware that community-based early care and education programs have fewer resources than public schools, are expected to be open longer hours, and serve younger children who cannot practice social distancing.When public schools are closed due to public health concerns, why would group early care and education programs be a safe option? The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Child Care Aware of America recommend that child care programs be closed when public schools are closed. In fact, early care and education settings usually have fewer resources to ensure health and safety than public schools – per child funding levels are lower, staff are paid less, staff have fewer paid sick days, staff are less likely to have good health insurance, programs usually do not have physical or mental health professionals on site, and very few programs have any professional cleaning staff.
4. Children, families and educators should not have to make choices about the safety, health and well-being of their families based on what they can afford to spend on early care and education. The health and safety guidelines that have been issued for child care programs to follow when they are open during the pandemic will require a significant increase in funding levels and strong state support and oversight to ensure compliance.
5. Infants, toddlers, and their caregivers require special attention. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the National Health and Safety Standards for Early Care and Education Programs (developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association) recommended that healthy infants under 12 weeks of age not be enrolled in group child care and that infants and toddler with chronic health conditions may need to wait longer. Paid family leave (e.g. the Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program in Rhode Island, employer-sponsored programs, and federal programs) should be extended and wage replacement rates should be increased to enable all families to keep babies at home for at least the first 12 weeks to 6 months of life.
6. As essential state infrastructure, child care and early education programs need support while they are closed and targeted support to reopen and meet health and safety standards. Like Rhode Island, many states are continuing to provide child care subsidy payments to closed child care programs, paying based on child enrollment and not on attendance, and covering parent co-pays. Some states are also providing financial support to programs that primarily serve private-pay families. There are a variety of policy and funding strategies that can be used to preserve and strengthen a state’s child care infrastructure.
Children, including very young children, can become infected, get sick, and die from the virus. Children, including those without symptoms, can also spread the virus to other children, their parents and grandparents, teachers, and caregivers. Although most children do not get very sick and are not at high-risk of serious complications or death from the virus themselves, they need their parents, grandparents, educators, and caregivers to survive, stay healthy, and provide the consistent nurturing care children need to thrive. The CDC currently recommends that children stay home, not have in-person playdates, stay six feet away from people outside their households, and avoid contact with older adults and anyone with an underlying health condition.
The CDC offers the same guidance for determining when schools and child care programs should be closed as a public health strategy to stop or slow the further spread of the virus. The CDC has issued specific guidance for child care programs that remain open during a period of community spread. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed an FAQ regarding child care during the COVID-19 Emergency. Rutgers Medical School and the National Institute for Early Education Research have also issued specific recommendations to provide safer emergency child care for children of essential workers.
Realities About Children & Social Distancing:
- Young children need to be cared for by nurturing adults and to be held, picked up, carried, and physically comforted throughout the day so they can feel safe and secure, regulate their emotions, and engage in learning new skills.
- Young children need a lot of physical assistance to walk, eat, drink, climb onto chairs and stools, climb stairs, wash their hands, use the toilet (or have their diaper changed), brush their teeth, and evacuate buildings in the event of an emergency.
- It is normal for children to experience stress when they are dropped off at child care and early education programs. Children rely on, and are comforted by, being physically close with educators and caregivers. Many strategies to comfort children and to create comforting programs require close contact with educators, parents visiting classrooms, and allowing children to bring security objects from home.
- Young children are learning how to read facial expressions, understand other people’s emotions, and communicate effectively. The CDC is recommending children over age 2 and all adults wear a mask when away from home. Young children require special, small masks and many will have difficulty wearing a mask for extended periods of time while in out-of-home child care.
- Young children are learning how to make choices and follow directions. Many young children have difficulty following directions and demonstrate challenging behaviors, especially when they are stressed. Even very young children are aware of our current events, and attuned to how adults are responding. Parents, educators, and caregivers can support young children’s expressions of stress by considering what the child might be communicating through their behaviors and what the child might need. Child care providers are in a unique position of also soothing parents who are likely experiencing heightened stress. Caregivers will need extra support to maintain good self-care routines so they can be present and available for the young children and families they serve.
- Young children thrive when they have consistent, stable and nurturing caregivers and are able to form secure attachments which are the foundation of lifetime mental health.
Realities About Child Care Programs:
- Despite the high-costs of child care to parents, child care educators earn very low wages.
- According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2019, the median wage for a child care educator was $12.01/hour and was $13.80 for a preschool teacher in Rhode Island.
- Child care and early education staff are very likely to be women and people of color.
- In Rhode Island, the state is not in compliance with key provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant because the weekly rates that state pays to providers caring for children in the Child Care Assistance Program are below the federal equal access standards. Significant funding is required to increase the rates to meet the federal standard to provide equal access to child care, even before COVID-19.
- Child care and early care and education jobs are close-contact, high-touch jobs that expose caregivers to many infectious diseases, even before COVID-19.
- Most child care and early learning programs do not have dedicated staff or access to professional contractors to clean and disinfect materials and the environment. Many child care programs struggle with infection control.
- Child care centers often have staff working in shifts to cover the 10-12+ hour day that many working families need, rotate aides and “floating staff” into rooms to cover staff lunch and bathroom breaks, and mix different ages and groups of children at the beginnings and ends of the day – so children are often exposed to more adults and children than those in their assigned group.
- Many child care programs allow families to enroll on a part-time schedule or allow for drop-in care which means it is difficult to have a stable group of children each day.
- Many child care centers experience high rates of staff turnover and high staff absenteeism.
Recommendations for Reopening and Rebuilding
We suggest a plan to reopen and rebuild Rhode Island’s early care and education system in stages that allow the state to push the forward and the rewind button to lift and then re-impose restrictions. Both in-the-child’s-home care and contracted group-based care are needed in all stages to provide a safer option for families who need it.
Stage A – Public School Buildings and Group Child Care Sites Are Closed
- Group child care sites should be closed to the general public when public schools are closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Rhode Island should provide support to programs to maintain facilities/home child care sites and some administrative staff while many early educators have been laid off and are collecting Unemployment Insurance.
- Pre-K, Head Start, Early Head Start, public schools, Early Intervention, and Family Home Visiting programs should provide remote family support and early childhood distance learning opportunities, including dropping off resources for enrolled children and families. Services are paid for through state and federal contracts or local public school funding with no funding collected from families to cover services.
- The state (and employers) should help families find and subsidize the cost of a consistent, healthy adult to come into their home to care for children. The National Institute for Early Education Research offers recommendations to states to establish systems to support a strong in-home child care system, including suggesting that existing child care programs have state contracts to re-deploy staff to provide in-home child care while providing support, supervision, compensation, and benefits.
Note: In-the-child’s-home care is more expensive than group care but adds only one person to a family’s social contacts and allows children to remain at home to reduce the cross-contamination that occurs when people from different households are mixed together. In-home child care is usually more responsive and flexible to meet the scheduling needs of families and can also facilitate distance learning opportunities available through Head Start, RI Pre-K and public school. Low-wage and middle-wage workers have great difficulty affording this type of child care, but it is commonplace in high-wage families. Low-wage and medium-wage workers can access this kind of care if it is provided free or at a substantial discount from a close family member, friend or neighbor – but that is not easy to get.
Stage B – Public Schools are Closed/Some Group Child Care Sites are Open for Essential Workers Only
- Group child care settings continue to be closed to the general public to limit the spread of the virus as long as public schools are closed.
- The state should carefully select and contract with well-managed child care centers and develop and contract with staffed family child care networks to provide care to essential workers. All group care settings that operate during the pandemic should have a state contract guaranteeing sufficient income to meet stricter health and safety standards from the CDC and pay wages that are at or above twice the minimum wage with wage supplements for low-wage such as were recently announced for the Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund.
- Contracted providers must ensure that staff are working voluntarily so that those with underlying health conditions that make them more likely to have serious complications or die from the virus are able to go on Unemployment Insurance.
- Contracted providers must have an adequate (state guaranteed) supply of PPE, cleaning supplies, and professional cleaning services. Child-sized masks must be provided by the state as long as the CDC recommends that children over age 2 wear masks. Child care programs should have laundry services or on-site, staffed laundry facilities to meet the CDC guidelines.
- Contracted providers, including centers and staffed family child care networks, should have at least one dedicated staff member trained by the Department of Health or a state-provided public health worker available at all times who is responsible for public health precautions (temperature taking, screening staff, children, and families, and managing isolation and contact tracing for any children, families, educators and staff who have been exposed to COVID-19).
- Group sizes should be limited and match or be more restrictive than limits on public gatherings. Classroom educators and regular household members in family child care should count in the group size. There should be separate rooms with floor-to-ceiling walls / dividers between each group in a center or a large family child care home.
- Child care programs should be open no more than 8 hours per day, 5 days per week to eliminate the need for shifts of educators for the same group of children. Programs should be paid based on enrollment and not attendance of children. Care for part-time children should be paid at the full-time rate so children are not slotted into opens spaces disrupting the stability of the group. Siblings/children from the same household should be in the same room whenever possible to limit contagion to households.
- Programs must provide higher, hazard-pay wages to attract and ensure consistent, stable staffing so that groups can be stable and people in the group have the opportunity to develop nurturing relationships with each other over time. Staff should be able to bring their own children to the program and these children should be in the same group as their parent whenever possible to limit spread of the virus across households.
- Arrangements should be made to continue distance learning for young children and school-age children and families who may be in a care setting with other children enrolled in various distance learning programs.
Stage C – Early Care & Education/Public Schools Allowed to Open to General Public with Precautions and Restrictions for COVID-19
- The state should provide significant operating funds and other support to programs to meet health and safety precautions and social distancing requirements, including limits on group size recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teachers and all adults in the setting should count in the group size (e.g. the teacher counts as one of the 10 since 10 children and 1 teacher is a group of 11). PPE and public health support should be provided to all open sites as long as this is recommended.
- Child care employers must ensure that staff are working voluntarily so that those with underlying health conditions that make them more likely to have serious complications or die from the virus are able to go on Unemployment Insurance.
- Funding must be provided to ensure adequate compensation for all early educators to meet their basic needs and compensation that is comparable with K-12 salaries to recognize and promote college coursework and degrees and effective teaching practices. The state should provide wage supplements and/or stipends to early educators working at open programs statewide because the general public cannot afford the significantly higher tuition that would enable programs to pay better wages.
- All staff of child care and early learning programs should have at least 10 days of paid sick time and comprehensive health insurance.
- The state and early care and education employers should ensure all older staff and staff with underlying health conditions have the option of remaining at home while getting paid or with wage replacement.
Stage D – Public Schools are Back to Normal with No More Social Distancing
- Families should pay no more than 7% of their income for child care/early learning so public funding must be provided to enable families to afford child care so they can return to work.
- Funding must be provided to ensure adequate compensation for all early educators to meet their basic needs and compensation that is comparable with K-12 salaries to recognize and promote college coursework and degrees and effective teaching practices. Wage supplements and/or stipends should be provided statewide because the general public cannot afford the significantly higher tuition that would enable programs to pay better wages.
- All staff of child care and early learning programs should have at least 10 days of paid sick time and comprehensive health insurance.
- Access to early learning should not be tied to employment of parents since it will probably take a long time for our economy to recover to previous employment levels. The state and federal government should expand Early Head Start, Head Start, RI Pre-K, and family home visiting to serve more children and families who may be unemployed or who are employed during non-traditional hours.
A Note on School-Age Child Care, Day Camps, & Out-of-School Time Learning:
- It will be very challenging to have school-age children (ages 5-12) practice social distancing and keep them occupied in developmentally appropriate activities that do not involve touching the same materials (balls, art supplies, etc.) and staying 6 feet away from each other at all times.
- Many summer day camp and learning programs are exempt from licensing in Rhode Island and other states. It will be difficult to provide oversight and support to summer day camps during the pandemic.
- The state should coordinate decisions about school-age child care with the RI Department of Education’s decision about the safe operation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers which provide afterschool and summer learning programs to thousands of Rhode Island children. Several programs receive both 21st Century CLC funding and Child Care Assistance Program funding to serve children.
We appreciate your hard work and we offer our willingness to help think through scenarios and questions that arise.
Leanne Barrett, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
Marcela Betancur, Latino Policy Institute
Susan Dickstein, Rhode Island Association for Infant Mental Health
Rachel Flum, Economic Progress Institute
Khadija Lewis Khan, Beautiful Beginnings
Mary Varr, Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association