This fall, one of the more impactful tasks for everyone — especially at the local level — is to vote.

As Family child care providers, we have an obligation to vote for our interest and the interest of the children in our care. Voting is the primary means of communication to the government. Votes not only determine policy but people’s lives and livelihoods. This year it is especially important to set up a plan to vote and to communicate with staff and families on the importance of their vote.

 

To help organize your specific plan, e.g. options such as via mail, in-person, or drop-ballot, the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership created a “Planning for the Polls” resource by Roby Kelton, M.A

Planning for the Polls 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, I had to re-think my sick policy and revise the parent handbook to reflect the new changes instituted by the state Health Department and recommendations from the CDC.

A typical sick policy within a child care setting consists of children not returning until 24 hours after the last symptom (fever, diarrhea, vomiting, flu, etc.). A doctor’s note is not always required upon returning, just as long as the child has returned after the 24-hour wait. This policy has its flaws. Oftentimes, the children are still not well after the 24-hour time frame. Illnesses such as a stomach virus, strep throat, or flu seem to pass through a child care setting like wildfire, being passed between not only the children but staff as well, causing unforeseen shut-downs due to the lack of adequate staff to child ratios.

COVID-19 has changed the way we handle sick policies and has also changed the way parents feel about keeping an ill child out of the facility, for the better.

Our new sick policy was added as addendums to the old policy and reflects a longer exclusion period of 48 hours after the last symptom of fever and/or illness. A doctor’s note is also required upon the return of any child who was out with an illness, stating that the child is in good health and can return to the facility. These measures alone have substantially cut back on illnesses being spread throughout the program. I have seen fewer sick children and staff for this time of year as compared to previous years. Because of this reason, I have decided to make these policies indefinite.

Have you had changes in your program policies due to COVID-19? Connect with us to share the changes and impact on your program.

It’s no small statement to say that we are living in strange and sometimes scary times. As a world, we are navigating a health crisis that most of us have never experienced personally. We don’t have any right answers, there are no good choices. So, we do the best that we can for our families; our friends; ourselves; and as ECE and FCC providers, for the families we serve. That spirit of continuing to serve families is how I developed my plan for my FCC program for the foreseeable future.

Before I talk about the changes I’m making, I should tell you a little about myself. I am an FCC provider with three kids of my own. My oldest is 7 and planning on attending in-person 2nd grade this fall…fingers crossed. I also have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. I am currently licensed to care for 7 children in addition to my own 3. My waiting list is long, and I don’t anticipate being able to help even half of the families who are calling me every day. Childcare has taken a big hit; spots are precious, and parents are worried.

To add to parents’ stress is the extremely difficult decision about what to do with their school age kids come August. Do I send them back to class and risk illness and trauma from the new rules? Do I somehow balance virtual learning with my full-time job? Do I withdrawal from the school and opt for a homeschooling option? How will I keep up? How can I best serve my children’s education, health, social development, and emotional well-being? Again, there are no good answers, just a selection of bad options that we must choose from.

As more and more families called me to ask if I would be able to watch their school-agers while they were virtual learning, and I as I heard more and more parents share their concerns about being able to balance work and school at home (along with all of the other things that parents have to balance every day); I began to realize that this was an area I could help. All through this pandemic, I’ve been wondering: What’s my role here? How can I use my skills to help others? What can I do to make a difference? Well, here it was. Slapping me in the face. I can offer virtual learning proctoring in my program. I can take the burden off parents and work with the district and teachers to help these children succeed this year.

So, I began to develop a plan. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful assistant, so I was able to work out a daily routine that would allow me to teach the virtual learning kids at the table (each with their own device, following their district’s learning plan) while my assistant ran play-based learning activities in the other room. I could offer one-on-one help for each child as they navigate this new way of learning in our own mini-school and communicate with their teachers to be sure we are staying on target and that I am focusing on any improvements or extra assistance that each child needs.

This is something many FCC providers could do to help the families we serve. This may not be the best option for all. I am not saying that every single FCC provider should or would be able to do this; but for those of us who can, what a great blessing it is to be able to help ease parents’ stress in this time of need.

An example of our daily schedule is as follows:

As you can see, some of our activities are still together as a group and our virtual learners are still getting to play outside, enjoy music/dancing, and participate in any extra activities we have scheduled for the day such as a special craft. Each day’s schedule will be built so that school is not taking away special experiences and so the school-agers aren’t sitting doing work on their own all day.

I currently have 3 children whose families have now chosen not to send their kids to in-person learning in favor of virtual learning with Mrs. Jessie and, if things don’t go as planned, I’ll be adding my big guy to that list as well. For our program, that means providing assistance for three different grades/ages, and four different virtual learning platforms/teachers/experiences at the same time. It sounds a bit hectic, but I know that it will be rewarding and worth the effort for the kids and their parents.

I encourage FCC providers, if this is something you feel like you could work into your program, to think about a plan, and assess if it is feasible for you. This is a long commitment, quite possibly the entire school year, but if you’re up for the challenge, it may be a great help to parents in your community.

 

A first-hand account of the challenges of staying open during the pandemic written  by a friend of Town Square Patricia Twymon

It is 6:54 a.m. on Tuesday morning and my cell phone is ringing. My client, an essential worker, tells me that he is on his way to drop off his daughter Hailey at my home child care. I hang up and take a steadying breath. Like every morning since the pandemic began, I wonder to myself if I am doing the right thing by keeping my doors open to the children of essential workers. I am putting my family at great risk. Both my husband and I have underlying conditions, and his 83-year-old mom lives with us. Could I live with myself if one of them contracted COVID-19 because of my decision to stay open? At the same time, could I live with myself if I shut my door on parents and children in need?

The doorbell rings a short time later and I make my way to my front door. We have all gotten the routine down, now. I open the door and move aside to let Hailey in. Her father stands a distance away from the door; he knows not to approach the threshold. 

Hailey and I do not hug as we did before the pandemic, but I give her a smile and say good morning. I visually scan her body and listen for a cough as she removes her coat. I do not have access to a thermometer to check her temperature, so I look closely for sweat on her brow. When she is ready, I lead Hailey to the bathroom so that she can wash her hands. As I watch her lather, I feel a tinge of pride. She has learned what areas she needs to reach and how long she has to rub her hands together. I have been caring for Hailey since she was six weeks old. She is almost 4 now, and the time has flown by.

I try to keep our daily routine as much like the old one as possible, but the differences are striking. In the era of COVID-19, I am Hailey’s only playmate. Instead of running around with her, I try my best to keep my distance while she plays. While Hailey naps, I sanitize every surface I can. I am as thorough as possible, fearing the worst if I miss a spot. I wonder when I will be able to find sanitizer at the store again. My cleaning supplies are running low, and the store shelves are empty. I have no idea how I will be able to maintain a clean, healthy, virus-free environment without access to bleach.

By the end of the day, I am mentally and emotionally exhausted, but I do not dare rest until I take a shower and change. As I do so, I continue to think of Hailey. She still seems happy and content to run around the otherwise empty child care. I wonder if she understands any of what is happening. Does she miss her friends? Can she tell that I am afraid?

My story has played out in many emergency child care homes and centers throughout our state. Money is not our motivation. Caregivers opened their homes and centers so that families can continue their essential work, without the pressure of worrying about what to do with their children. 

What will the post-pandemic world look like for centers and home programs once this lockdown has ended? Rumors are running rampant that we will lose a large portion of our children. How will our programs survive? It is more important than ever for both center and home-based providers to stand together in solidarity.   

I feel solidarity with my fellow child care workers right now, because I know that many are facing the same challenges that I am. Day after day, child care workers are overlooked on the news and left out of COVID-19 relief packages. We do not have access to personal protective equipment or sanitization supplies. Child care workers have been given, on average, an extra $10 per day to take care of children during the pandemic. Yet, we put our lives and our families’ lives at risk every day. If child care workers were unable to work, other essential workers would be forced to stop working too.

Like other essential workers, child care workers are in the fight of, and for, our lives. We know that now is the time for us to step forward and do what we do best: take care of children. We need our policymakers to recognize our sacrifice by giving us the recognition, funding and protective equipment we need to do our work

 

 

Courtesy of Exchange Magazine July/August 2020  exchangepress.com

Exchange Magazine provides a variety of articles including stories about and by family child care providers

 

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning offers an area map of the state with each corresponding local community-based organizations that administers  Resource and Referral services.

 

Indiana Afterschool network works in providing enriching after school programming. Programming around the state can be easily found by using their database, narrow your search by counties, age group and activity. Or start your own program using the Start-up guide.

Hoy quería hacer algo interesante con los niños y me di cuenta de que no habíamos hecho plastilina en mucho tiempo, así que miré en la despensa para ver si tenía los ingredientes necesarios. La receta que uso para hacer plastilina es:

1 taza de sal

2 tazas de harina

4 cucharaditas de crema de tártaro

2 cucharadas de aceite vegetal

2 tazas de agua

1 paquete de Kool-Aid (u otro tipo de mezcla de jugo: ¡compro el que  esté en oferta!)

Combine todos los ingredientes en una cacerola y cocínalo a fuego medio revolviendo constantemente hasta que la masa se una. Retirar del fuego y amasar la masa hasta que esté suave y fría. Ponlo en un recipiente  o bolsa de plástico.

Mientras buscaba todos los ingredientes, rápidamente me di cuenta de que no tenía un paquete de Kool-Aid. Me gusta usar el kool-aid porque agrega color y aroma. Encontré un poco de colorante de alimentos y canela, y decidí probarlo. Salió con un olor excelente y con una textura un poco diferente, lo que lo hizo aún más interesante. Los niños jugaron con la plastilina sin usar herramientas durante casi una hora, por lo que me imagino que la utilizarán más durante las próximas semanas a medida que agregue algunos moldes para galletas, rodillos, cuchillos de plástico y más.

Casi abandoné mi idea de hacer plastilina cuando no tenía todo lo que la receta requería, pero estoy muy contenta de ser creativa y arriesgarme al usar la canela. Esta actividad también me recordó que deberíamos volver a visitar las actividades que no hemos hecho en mucho tiempo y mantenerlo simple al reintroducir un material puede generar un interés renovado y un juego extendido por parte del niño.

¿Tienes una receta favorita de plastilina? ¿Tiene sustituciones interesantes para su receta habitual de plastilina?

playdoughplaydough 2

Ok, has llegado a la tienda de reventa o venta de garaje y has comprado algunas cajas de juguetes; los llevaste a casa y descubriste que varios de los juguetes no funcionan o están en la lista de retiro. Todos los compradores de segunda mano deben tener una bolsa de suministros para cuando está en las tiendas. La bolsa debe contener guantes desechables o lavables, baterías (al menos 8 de cada tamaño AA, AAA, C y D) destornilladores (cabeza Phillips, cabeza ranurada, llave Allen) en varios tamaños. Necesitará su teléfono móvil con acceso al Internet para verificar si hay juguetes retirados del mercado antes de comprarlos.

Después de la compara a llegar a la casa es tiempo para “muéstrales amor” a los juguete.  “Muéstrales amor” es otra forma de decir que es tiempo de limpiarlos. Mis nuevas compras van de mi automóvil directo al garaje donde uso una cubeta llena de una mezcla de Dawn y agua caliente. Utilizo otra cubeta llena de agua limpia para enjuagarlos. El último paso incluye el uso de una botella de spray llena de cloro y agua. Es importante inspeccionar todos los juguetes antes de comprarlos, pero si encuentro que los juguetes ya que están en mi casa tienen bordes afilados o piezas que faltan tiro el juguete a la basura. El daño que podría causar a los niños no vale la pena. Coloque los juguetes en una toalla limpia y permita que se sequen al aire antes de compartirlos con los niños. “Muéstrales amor” debe ocurrir con frecuencia y no solo cuando ha comprado juguetes en la segunda. Los juguetes que los niños se llevan a la boca deben ser limpiados cuando el niño termina de jugar con él. Los otros juguetes deben limpiarse y desinfectarse al menos una vez por semana. ¡Feliz compras!

 

Juguetes retirados del mercado

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Search/?query=toys&filters=recalls&date=all

tipos de destornilladores

¿Cómo es un destornillador manual y cuántos tipos hay?

Limpieza y desinfección

https://www.cdc.gov/es/disasters/bleach.html

 

Encontrar y reutilizar juguetes sanos y de calidad puede ser fácil si sabes dónde buscar. Cuando empecé mi negocio de cuidado infantil familiar hace 22 años, usé algunos de los juguetes que había comprado para mis hijos. Los juguetes no estaban en una lista de retiro; y estaban en perfectas condiciones. No recuerdo por qué entré en mi primera tienda de segunda, pero una vez que fui, me enamoré. Pude encontrar juguetes de buena calidad que otra gente ya no usaba. Encontré las tiendas de segunda por la guía telefónica, los periódicos, de boca a boca y, después por, el Internet. Mi búsqueda de juguetes comenzó con tiendas de segunda locales. A medida que me sentía más cómodo con el proceso, me aventuré a lugares a millas y millas de distancia de mi casa. Lo más que visite estas tiendas, comencé a aprender qué días, llegan los juguetes, se clasifican, marcan, muestran y descuentan aún más. Cuando estaba buscaba en los periódicos tiendas de segunda, vi un anuncio de una venta de garaje en el vecindario, y ese anuncio mencionaba específicamente “juguetes”. No podía creer la cantidad y calidad de los juguetes. Tienes que planificar y estar en las tiendas temprano para obtener la mejor selección.

 

 

 

Parte II