Throughout COVID-19, we had the opportunity to come together with organizations throughout the area to make BIG impacts. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, these leaders joined to create the San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Response Team. The Response Team identified three pressing needs for the child care field during the COVID-19 pandemic– emergency childcare for essential workers, economic relief for childcare providers, and childcare supplies, and from there, created initiatives to implement relief. From surveying essential workers, distributing PPE, vaccine distribution, various forms of financial relief, and much more, we found that it really does take a village.
We are still working on establishing a new normal in the wake of all the changes that COVID-19 brought to the childcare industry. While the Response Team has taken decisive action over the past year to address the pressing needs of the child care field during the COVID-19 pandemic, much is still needed to sustain this essential industry.
- The Response Team hopes to secure additional funding to continue offering grants to providers, many of whom are still working to eliminate the early-accrued debts and are struggling with sustainability.
- Families need continued tuition support to send their children to safe and healthy childcare.
- Providers need ongoing technical assistance to access grant and loan programs.
- There is still a funding gap that stands between us and universal, high quality, accessible child care in San Mateo County that must be addressed.
- Phasing in the CCRT work with established advocacy groups such as the Child Care Partner council to elevate strategy and recommendations for a sustainable who child whole family child care system
However, the pandemic offered us and so many others an opportunity to look long-standing structural problems in the eye and advocate for doing something about them. Across our community, there is a better understanding that the gap between what parents can afford to pay and the cost of providing high quality care has grown wider and the lack of qualified workers and low wages for child care educators have continued to limit the expansion of child care services. The Response Team partners have been advocating for our state and local governments to use federal relief funds to address these long-term structural challenges to make child care more affordable for families and to ensure higher wages for early childhood education workers. We have been leaning on our leadership to change these structural issues with more visible and concrete evidence than ever before.
When faced with a generation-defining challenge, the San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Response Team rose to it, and created strong relationships, creative initiatives, and meaningful solutions for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We are proud of everything we have accomplished, and we will continue to fight for what is important to the healthy and happy development of our youngest San Mateo County Citizens.