Colorado Succeeds understands that a student’s passion for learning must start early. Called out in Vision 2030, early learning is the foundation upon which all other innovation and development rely. Through our advocacy efforts we have supported the READ Act and the expansion of full-day kindergarten in the past.
Now, it is time to specifically help our youngest learners continue to grow even through distance learning and support early childhood educators and programs as they provide emergency care and education. It is becoming increasingly clear that early childhood education (ECE) is in a state of crisis. We, along with other state and national advocates, are working to ensure that the state and Congress include supports and resources that are essential for ECE providers to remain open now and into the future.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, most ECE centers and education providers were already operating on razor-thin budgets and low employee compensation. A recent survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) found that most childcare programs across the U.S. are at risk of closing permanently.
Of the 6,000 childcare providers surveyed nationwide, 30% say they would not survive a closure of more than two weeks without substantial public investment that would allow them to compensate staff, pay rent, mortgage or other fixed costs. Additionally, 17% of respondents say they would not survive any length of time without support, 16% say they would not survive longer than a month, and 25% do not know how long they could close and still be able to re-open without support.
This comes at a time when ECE providers are being called upon to continue services despite school closures and calls for social distancing. Healthcare providers, grocery store employees, and other essential service workers are necessary to minimize the impact of COVID-19. For parents in these essential sectors to do their work and tend to those impacted by COVID-19, the ECE workforce is asked to continue their work. That’s why we must do everything we can to ensure that ECE providers have the financial resources and support to provide high-quality, safe care, and education for those on the frontlines of this global crisis.
Colorado Succeeds signed a letter, urging Governor Polis to provide additional guidance, resources, and support for ECE. Many of these items were included in the governor’s recent executive orders. We also signed onto a national letter that asks Congress for additional funds to support ECE across the nation.
ECE will increasingly be a top-priority advocacy effort that business can support in the following ways:
- Join an ECE Working Group which will advise in the development of an internal ECE Advisory Committee made up of business leaders, ECE experts, and state policy leaders. This committee will ultimately inform key goals and policy priorities related to ECE.
- Support EPIC’s efforts in supplying ECE providers with simple supplies that maintain a clean operating environment. Paper towels, toilet paper, bleach, latex/nitrile gloves, hand soap, disinfecting wipes, and snacks/food for children are all desperately needed. To donate, contact the local ECE Council in your area. Mile High United Way also published a list of volunteer and supply needs for the Denver Metro area. There are similar supply drives for El Paso and Weld counties.
- Share resources from the Emergency Childcare Collaborative with any essential employees looking for childcare. The Collaborative aims to provide important information to the ECE community while collecting and assessing the greater community’s needs.