Arkansas Early Childhood Association response to Covid-19

The Board and Staff of AECA hope and pray you are doing well and holding up under these most challenging of circumstances. Over the last few days, we have been inundated with calls from many in our state asking for AECA to be the voice for Arkansas’s early childhood workforce to our state’s policymakers and decision-makers.

We wanted to assure you that we see that role as both a privilege and a serious responsibility.  As part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, the advocacy team at AECA was already reviewing recommendations from national experts and tracking related work in other states. The result was to compose a series of recommendations to the state’s Executive Branch. While some of the national early childhood associations have called for closing all child care facilities, our state has chosen not to do that at this time. The opinions on this subject are both varied and strong, and we could have an endless debate about whether this is the right call.  What we can agree on that this would be a very agonizing and consequential call to have to make. And yet it is just one of the countless decisions our state leaders are grappling with.

 

 

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Educators – 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲! – are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccinations beginning Monday January 18th 2021. Please read this blog post for more information on how to get your vaccination. Child care workers are included in the same category of essential frontline workers such as:

• Firefighters/police
• U.S. Postal Service workers
• Essential government workers

You can hear Governor Hutchinson discussing this from minute 7:25 in this video: https://youtu.be/y5gfGN8caHM

This is great news for our sector and a great example of good public policy work that so many change makers across our state have been working on behind the scenes. Engagement in the upcoming legislative process is vital as we continue to share the importance of early childhood care and education and that we are #EssentialNotExpendable.

Friday, March 20, 2020
AECA has developed a list of recommendations that we believe will help sustain our programs and workforce during this time while keeping the health and safety of the ECE Workforce and children we serve, at the forefront.  The Executive Board met on a Zoom call Thursday evening and approved these recommendations. On Friday morning, I sent these recommendations to the Governor, Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith and copied other agency directors. I wanted to share those recommendations with you now. The
recommendations are in two phases. You can read Phase One here and Phase Two here.

We would ask for your support of these recommendations to the Governor. Until a different course is chosen, we believe this series of action steps would give Arkansas the best chance to sustain our child care industry and keep everyone healthy and safe.

So what are we asking you to do?

Contact your state representatives and senators and ask them to support the recommendations from AECA. If they have not had a chance to see a copy of the recommendations, share this link for Phase One bit.ly/AECACovid19 and this link for Phase Two bit.ly/AECACovid19-2.

If you do not know the names of your representative and/or senator, follow these instructions: bit.ly/AECALegislators and then visit this link: bit.ly/AECATakeAction

Resources

Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 School and Child Care Hotline 833-504-0155

COVID-19 Information: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus

Arkansas Economic Development Commission Resources: https://www.arkansasedc.com/covid19

U.S. Small Business Administration Guidance and Loan Resources: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

General Protection Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html

Guidance for childcare programs that remain open: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html

Helpful information on talking with children about COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html

Women’s Foundation Arkansas small business grant opportunity: http://womensfoundationarkansas.org/women-owned/

NAEYC Resource Links https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/our-work/public-policy-advocacy/sba_loan_faqs.pdf

Arkansas DESE resources http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/communications/covid-19-information

Kids Guide to the Coronavirus http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/public/userfiles/Communications/COVID-19%20Information/The_Kids_Guide_to_the_Coronavirus_Arkansas.pdf

Help Stop the Spread https://helpslowthespread.com/ 

The AECA Board and I continue to stay abreast of the situation with COVID-19. We know it’s effects are different for everyone, and we take this very seriously. Remember, we are here for you!  If you have any suggestions, let us know. Stay safe!

Gregg Cooper
AECA President

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