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This is the final blog of this three-part blog series. Read Part I: What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it? and Part II: The ECE Role in Preventing Child Maltreatment – and Why it is Critical During the Pandemic.

Early Care and Education (ECE) is a source of Protective Factors for children. Protective Factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. These attributes serve as buffers, helping parents find resources, support or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that the Protective Factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.

Because quality ECE programs are staffed and built around knowledge of child development, they are providing a critical protective factor. Children thrive when caregivers provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations and safe opportunities that promote independence. Successful caregiving by ECE teachers and parents fosters psychological adjustment, helps children succeed in school, encourages curiosity about the world and motivates children to achieve.

Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing a positive relationship with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. Research shows that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents and caregivers have the best chance of healthy development. A child’s relationship with a consistent, caring adult in the early years is associated later in life with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions and an increased ability to cope with stress. 

We know that families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing and transportation—and who know how to access essential services such as child care, health care and mental health services to address family-specific needs—are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. Many ECE programs partner with parents to identify and access resources in the community which may help prevent the stress that sometimes precipitates child maltreatment. Providing concrete supports, a key Protective Factor, may also help prevent the unintended neglect that sometimes occurs when parents are unable to provide for their children. 

Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Now, while most of us are staying physically isolated to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some parents find the connection to their ECE teacher is a connection to someone they trust, rely on and who can offer advice or concrete support. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.

Protective Factors are built in to ECE programs, providing a support system that builds strong families. Quality, affordable child care is foundation to building strong families, resilient children, caring communities and economic prosperity into the future.

Resources:

This blog is also published by Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is the leading statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect. Through collaboration with partners, PCANC ensures that prevention is a priority for North Carolina and all communities have the knowledge, support, and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. PCANC is the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.

On Monday, August 24, we published Part I of this series: What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it. Read Part I.

High quality Early Care and Education (ECE) programs create safe, stable, nurturing environments, proven to prevent child maltreatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend investing in quality child care as a key strategy to prevent child maltreatment in their Essentials for Childhood technical assistance package.

Quality, affordable ECE programs allow parents to focus on work to provide for their family. Young children receive two meals and a snack each day. Many programs screen children for health and developmental concerns. Teachers observe children, using those observations to plan curriculum, support children’s needs and when necessary, make reports if they suspect maltreatment or neglect. Families are recognized as partners in their children’s care and parents are listened to and respected. High quality programs promote child health and safety by understanding the challenges their families are facing, connecting them to local resources or assisting them in creating and maintaining healthy environments for their children. Most importantly, ECE teachers are a trusted, knowledgeable source of information about the stages of child development and expectations for children’s behavior for many parents.

Unfortunately, the ECE system was broken long before COVID-19 struck because the economics do not work. Parents cannot afford the real cost of care, causing wage suppression.  Programs struggle to stay afloat. They are often one emergency away from closing. As a society, we are not investing in the ECE system the way we invest in subsidizing the public K-12 and university systems, yet the early childhood years build the foundation for future educational success.

More than 50 percent of the state’s highest quality rated ECE programs (4- and 5- stars) and 30 percent of all programs were closed at the end of June[1]. Those open were operating at less than full capacity; enrollment is down 67 percent nationally, and statewide, we are at 53 percent capacity. At the same time expenses are increasing, including 73 percent of programs spending more money on payroll to meet smaller group sizes as required. With razor-thin operating margins before COVID-19, this is fast approaching a disaster. Programs will not be able to survive, leaving families without care, striking a blow to our workforce and our economy.

Many working parents will be forced to make hard choices. In some families, older siblings will have to drop out of school to care for younger children, school age children will come home to empty homes or in too many cases, families will be forced to rely on unstable and unsafe situations where their children’s health and safety may be endangered.

We can prevent this. We know how to create quality, affordable child care. In fact, the U.S. military has been doing it for decades. If we recognize ECE as a necessity for working families and support it with federal, state and local dollars (as we do with our K-12 and public university systems), not only will children and families thrive, so will our economy.

This blog is also published by Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is the leading statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect. Through collaboration with partners, PCANC ensures that prevention is a priority for North Carolina and all communities have the knowledge, support, and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. PCANC is the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.


[1] DCDEE, July 2020.

As our lives are rocked by the repercussions of COVID-19, children are learning at home, relationships are disrupted and parents are juggling parenting and work. Many parents are working from home. Others must leave home to keep their jobs. Access to quality, affordable child care is a necessity for employees and employers. In this three-part series, we are focusing on the critical role of Early Care and Education (ECE) in creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families.

Right now, ECE educators and programs are under stress. Families with young children are stressed. Assuring the stability of our ECE system is essential so North Carolina can get back to business and families can thrive.

We all have a role to play in assuring safe, stable, nurturing environments for our children—policymakers, business leaders and community members—to assure our children thrive and we build a foundation for their future success. Investing in a sustainable, quality ECE system is fundamental to our society. It is good for kids. It is good for parents. It is good for business.  That is a winning equation that will have a great return on investment post-pandemic and beyond.

Part 1 – What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it?

Early Care and Education (ECE), often called child care, includes settings in which children are cared for and taught by people other than their parents or primary caregivers with whom they live. It is foundational for a prosperous society. It serves many vital functions: an educational institution building young children’s developing brains; a caring place for children to develop social and emotional skills; a primary child maltreatment prevention system; a vital workforce support; and an economic driver.

ECE is a complex system of care and education that supports children’s well-being. Positive interactions are the foundation of healthy brain development, particularly in the first three years of life when 80 percent of brain growth happens. Quality ECE by a workforce educated in child development fosters caring relationships for children which increase their ability to thrive, adapt and learn into adulthood. 

ECE is also a foundational support system for our workforce and economic development. Corporations, small businesses and community-based organizations need employees with secure child care and school arrangements to stabilize our economy. Employees depend on quality care for their children while they work. As ECE programs struggle to stay open during the pandemic, the lack of care impacts child well-being, family financial security and economic recovery.

This blog is also published by Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is the leading statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect. Through collaboration with partners, PCANC ensures that prevention is a priority for North Carolina and all communities have the knowledge, support, and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. PCANC is the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.

Tammy Gibson

This is a sobering reality for Tammy Gibson, Director of Central United Methodist Church preKindergarten in Haywood County. She said it was very difficult to close her center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she ultimately felt she had no choice. “I have so many staff with different risk factors. There was just no way we could safely stay open.”

That difficult decision means that she and her teachers are facing real financial hardship. She said, “All of my teachers are trying to figure it out financially. They are struggling. If you get behind paying your bills, it is so much harder.”

When asked about her own experience, Tammy shared, “It has been so hard for my family because I don’t have income to contribute to our bills. I still haven’t been able to get unemployment. My daughter is getting married in August and we are not sure what to do. We want to keep things rolling, but it is a real struggle. We are cutting back every way we can, buying the necessities only. We are just trying to keep our lights on.”

Four of Tammy’s teachers have been getting salary supplements from the Child Care WAGE$® Program for many years. The fact that these supplements will continue during this crisis is a bright spot for her staff.

According to Tammy, “They are going to be so grateful to have these payments. It has been so hard on them and they will need this money just to meet basic, fundamental needs. It means so much. WAGE$ is a great program. Staff wait on the money to help pay bills. They appreciate it a lot.” As a previous participant, Tammy said WAGE$ helped her finish school and now that her county has a new income cap, she has applied to join the program again.

Tammy hopes that her center may be one of the lucky ones that can reopen with church support. She is staying in touch with her staff as they all face this challenge together. She said, “My center has not experienced a lot of turnover and many of my teachers have worked with me for years. We are more than coworkers; we are friends and family. I hope they can come back.”

Learn more about CCSA’s Child Care WAGE$® Program here.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at CCSA

Our last post in the series ended with two questions for providers: “How can we best care for you?” and “How are you caring for yourself?” Inspired by these questions, this post discusses the difference between self-care and community care, and why understanding this difference is key to the long term survival of the early childhood system.

Activism to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and growing awareness of how toxic stress builds up in the body have made “self-care” a hot button topic. A glance at Google search term analytics shows that, starting around the beginning of 2016, the phrase took off in popularity, peaking in April 2020. Google trends also considers the phrase “self-care plan” as a breakout term, meaning the phrase had a “tremendous increase” in searches compared to little to no searches a few years ago.

Many researchers and early childhood advocates are focused on the mental health impacts of the pandemic for young children, as the first three years of life are so crucial to development. As a field, however, we must pay equal attention to providers. Trauma begets trauma, and child care providers cannot pour from an empty cup.

Research shows that the pandemic is changing our brain function. When the body is under the constant stress of trying to keep ourselves and others safe, the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain responsible for complex decision making, shuts down. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in the body to activate both our learned and instinctual responses to threats. When we are stuck in this activated state for long periods of time, it diminishes our ability to think abstractly, to empathize and to complete tasks like planning, paperwork, writing and organization.

Paradoxically, all of these activities are even more necessary as the school year begins, as some providers reopen, others adapt to virtual learning and their school age children returning, and providers try to mitigate added risk as children move between various environments where they may be exposed to the virus.

Care providers and the people who in turn care for them are also impacted by “compassion fatigue.” You may have heard of the compassion fatigue phenomenon as it applies to supporting a grieving loved one. Often times, a bereaved person receives care and attention from their community shortly following the traumatic event, but support drops off over time. This means that as the pandemic continues, providers will struggle to provide the same quality of supportive interactions with young children, and also struggle to receive the support they deserve.

Indeed, as the adrenaline of the early pandemic fades and exhaustion sets in, child care providers need more support, not less. This, and the hindrance to brain function caused by unprecedented stress, can make self-care practices such as mindfulness, journaling or establishing routine more difficult to practice.

Thus, calls to prioritize “self-care,” though very important, can sometimes invalidate people who are struggling to care for themselves and need community to step in. Community care acknowledges the interdependence of us all – a lesson more and more of us have remembered again when it comes to child care in the pandemic. The nervous system is soothed by the co-regulation that occurs in community, which in turn helps each individual to self-regulate.

So, what would a robust system of community care look like? We often hear about talk therapy as a first line response to mental health crisis. Yet, a large percentage of providers have no health insurance, so therapy is not affordable. Peer support specialists, often serving in local health departments, may be a promising option to meet increased need. Peer support specialists also have personal experience recovering from mental illness or addiction, and are therefore able to provide horizontal, rather than the top-down support other mental health professionals provide, which can sometimes feel impersonal.

For family child care providers, FCC networks also provide connections with peers, can help centralize or provide systems for completing paperwork and offer services like training and technical assistance. Many counties have child care directors meetings with Child Care Resource and Referral staff as additional support. Currently, special initiatives like the North Carolina Hope4Healers Helpline (1-919-226-2002) are connecting frontline workers to licensed mental health professionals. Advocating for increased funding for resources of this kind is one way to practice community care.

Of course, community care also means fighting against the injustices that keep providers struggling for survival, rather than thriving. A thriving workforce is one with access to fair wages, comprehensive benefits, quality working conditions and freedom from racial and gender-based violence and discrimination.

Are you a child care provider? How can the community show up for you as we move into the school year? Write to us here.

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President

Since March 14 when all public schools across North Carolina were closed for in-person instruction, along with most Head Start programs, families with young children throughout the state have struggled to keep their families safe from COVID-19 exposure and illness, balance jobs and caregiving responsibilities, as well as support remote learning to the extent offered and possible. 

These challenges were made more difficult as the pandemic months wore on, which were hard for the wealthiest of families let alone those families who struggled to find and afford child care, who lost jobs or had a reduction in income or lacked access to the internet or technology such as a laptop or tablet to help support their children’s “remote learning.” It’s no wonder there has been a significant increase in anxiety, stress and depression.[1]

This week, the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) released new guidance for NC Pre-K programs operating this fall.[2] DCDEE strongly encourages NC Pre-K programs to prioritize having students physically present in Pre-K classrooms for the 2020-2021 school year.[3] Why? Because children learn best in-person –­­ not through screen-time. Programs will operate for a full 36 weeks as usual, 6.5 hours per day, 5 days per week, beginning no later than September 8.

The goals are clear[4]:

  • All NC Pre-K students receive the benefit of fully in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible.
  • All parents/guardians are offered the option of in-person instruction for the full program year.
  • Remote learning will be available for NC Pre-K students as a last resort and used as sparingly as possible.

Because many NC Pre-K classrooms are operated in community-based child care centers, it is possible to operate NC Pre-K classrooms even while public schools are closed or switch to a hybrid model where Group A may attend two days per week and Group B may attend another two days in that week. Because child care centers are typically much smaller settings compared to public elementary schools and because pre-K classrooms generally have fewer students per class than the average K-6 classroom in public schools, pre-K operating within child care centers makes sense as an option for those parents who select it. Unlike public school attendance, participation in NC Pre-K is voluntarily selected by parents.

What we know is that COVID-19 took us all by surprise this spring.

Public schools and NC Pre-K shifted to remote learning in a heroic effort to promote continued learning while facilities were closed. At the same time, despite those heroic efforts, remote learning was at best an experiment. Little is known about its effectiveness. And, effectiveness compared to what – compared to onsite instruction? Compared to the absence of any learning packets, phone calls, texts or online engagement? What we do know is that remote learning is not the best format for 4 year-olds. There is no 4 year-old who can engage in remote learning without the support of an onsite parent or guardian. And, whether or not 4 year-olds are home with an older sibling while parents work, or have parents or grandparents who are not otherwise working or caring for other children so that they can devote the specific, individual time needed to support their 4 year-old’s remote learning is a real question. Unanswered to date.

In July, Duke University’s Center for Child & Family Policy released the results of a statewide survey of NC Pre-K lead and assistant teachers.[5] On average, lead and assistant teachers reported that the highest percentage of children in their classrooms received remote learning services weekly – 58 percent of children reported by lead teachers and 62 percent of children reported by assistant teachers.[6]

Unlike the daily onsite NC Pre-K program of 6.5 hours, only one-third of children reported by lead teachers received daily remote learning services (27 percent of children reported by assistant teachers received daily remote learning services).[7]

When asked about remote learning strategies most often used, in declining order by most often used were: phone calls and texting at #1, learning or activity packets at #2, email at #3 and Zoom and ClassDojo at #4 (video connections).[8] Certainly, teachers are to be commended for their outreach efforts, but at the same time, these efforts are really not comparable to the 6.5-hour regular onsite program.

Duke’s study also reported teachers’ perceptions on the greatest barriers to family engagement with remote learning. Time to engage with remote learning was rated as the largest barrier to family engagement (43 percent reported by lead teachers, 45 percent reported by assistant teachers), followed by reliable access to technology (22 percent reported by lead teachers, 23 percent reported by assistant teachers), reliable internet access (16 percent reported by lead teachers, 21 percent reported by assistant teachers) and some other barrier (19 percent reported by lead teachers, 11 percent reported by assistant teachers).[9]

Were there lessons learned from the remote learning experience from this past spring?

Yes. And, many are reflected in extra training and supports for NC Pre-K staff in the coming year. Yet, the biggest takeaway is that remote learning is still an experiment. And, that’s why it makes sense that the new DCDEE guidance emphasizes a priority for in-person NC Pre-K classrooms to the extent possible.

The most recent data shows 2,689 child care centers open throughout North Carolina.[10] On average, child care centers show enrollment of about 53 percent.[11] This means that many could have additional space to support pre-K classrooms should they be inclined to partner within their community to offer NC Pre-K. Statewide, more than 100,000 children are in licensed child care.[12] These children are in programs following public health safety and social distancing guidelines.

Existing research pertaining to online learning for K-12 students raises serious questions about remote learning effectiveness.[13],[14] A National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) study related to public pre-K students this spring found that only 23 percent of children previously served in public pre-K programs (pre-COVID-19) continued to receive meals and nutritious snacks.[15] Nearly one-quarter of public pre-K students with disabilities received no support and about 40 percent of pre-K students with disabilities received only partial support.[16] 

Given what we know about the school readiness gaps by income, by race, by ethnicity and the limited but questionable effectiveness of remote learning for 4 year-old children, DCDEE’s guidance recommending prioritizing in-person NC Pre-K instruction makes sense. With child care centers open and adhering to public health guidance on social distancing and experience serving the children of essential personnel this spring, it makes sense to give parents the option of enrolling children for onsite instruction this fall. There will be families who decide the onsite option is not for them. There could very well also be families who see the availability of onsite instruction as an opportunity for their children.

Utilizing child care centers as community partners makes sense. They are open for child care. It seems inconsistent to say that they can offer child care but not NC Pre-K. Local communities will be deciding soon. Decisions about onsite pre-K classrooms should not be linked to the operating status of public schools but whether capacity exists within community-based child care programs to safely follow Department of Public Health guidance to offer both child care and public pre-K. Children and working families depend on it.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, Week 12, July 16-July 21, 2020.
[2] NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), Interim COVID-19 Reopening Policies for NC Pre-K Programs, August 3, 2020.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Duke University, Center for Child & Family Policy, The North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program and Remote Learning Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a Statewide Survey of Teachers, July 2020.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Child Care Resources Inc. (CCRI), July 2020.
[11] DCDEE, July 2020.
[12] DCDEE, July 2020.
[13] Molnar, A., Miron, G., Elgeberi, N.,  Barbour, M.K., Huerta, L., Shafer, S.R., Rice, J.K. (2019). Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.
[14] OECD (2015), Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, PISA, OECD Publishing.
[15] National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Young Children’s Home Learning and Preschool Participation Experiences During the Pandemic, NIEER 2020 Preschool Learning Activities Survey: Technical Report and Selected Findings, July 2020.
[16] Ibid.

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President, and Jennifer Gioia, CCSA Communications Manager

“Child care has quietly been the backbone of our communities and economy, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how critical access to child care is for the functioning of our country. As we consider policies that can get the economy running again and reexamine how our federal, state, and local budgets reflect our priorities, it’s increasingly clear we must build a strong, resilient child care infrastructure that can support our families and the economy.”1

I bet you thought I wrote that. I didn’t.5

That paragraph was written by millennials at Next100 and GenForward. Millennials, now in their 20s and early 30s, are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, making up roughly 35 percent of workers, and are soon to be the largest generation in the American electorate. Millennial women account for the vast majority of U.S. births,1 but many are delaying childbirth well into their 30s. And millennials are the most educated group in history; 61 percent are college graduates compared to 46 percent of baby boomers.2

It’s no leap to assume that same dedication to education would extend to their children. For millennial parents, child care isn’t just a service to get parents to work, but one that also helps children with school. Millennial parents aren’t just thinking about care, they’re thinking about learning.2

As revealed in a ground-breaking new survey from Next100 and GenForward, when weighing the decision to have children, access to affordable, high-quality child care actually plays a bigger role with millenials and Gen Zers (people ages 18 to 36) than student loan debt. Nearly nine out of 10 millennials and Gen Zers say the cost of child care is very or somewhat important in deciding whether or not to have children, according to the survey.4

Other survey results found the lack of affordable child care, alongside student loan debt and lack of affordable housing, affects the next generation’s decision to have children, further influencing their career and professional decisions.1 Overall, 81 percent of millennials and Gen Zers believe access to affordable high-quality child care is an important issue.4

Millennials Face Barriers When Starting a Family

Melinda is a millennial with a bachelor’s degree. Her student loan debt and the cost of child care are part of the reason she and her spouse haven’t had children yet. Another millennial, Jessica, is the mother of a 9-year-old. The high cost of child care forced Jessica to come up with a plan for care before having her daughter and has been a major factor in delaying a second child. With two post-secondary degrees and student loan debt, an increase in rent and a hope to buy a home, Jessica said the financial burden of child care worries her.

“Even now, when I only have to worry about before and after school care, it’s a significant part of my monthly budget, and any increase in that cost could render me unable to utilize before and after school care at all,” said Jessica.

Like many other millennials, once Jessica knew she wanted to have a child, her career and professional goals changed. “I actually switched my educational and career trajectory altogether and pursued an AAS in ECE and began working at a licensed child care facility in order to qualify for discounted child care. If I hadn’t, I have no doubt that I would not have been able to afford to work outside the home at all, and working at home was not an option at the time.”

Melinda is also seeing firsthand this trend of child care costs deterring millennials from starting or growing their families. “In my family and friends, I noticed that those around my age either haven’t started a family yet or they only have maybe one child,” she said. “But those that are like 10, 15 years older than us have multiple children.”

This support for child care comprises a multiracial coalition that crosses traditional ideological differences, even among those without children.  

Millennials are sending a clear signal that access to child care is a pivotal public policy issue that not only affects the economy but also shapes personal decisions around when—or whether—future generations have children.1

The Unaffordability of Child Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the true importance of accessible and affordable high-quality child care for families and our economy. Even before COVID-19, the cost of child care for millennials was unaffordable nationwide. According to Child Care Aware of America, the annual cost of center-based infant care cost millennials more than half of their median salary in 2019.3

In North Carolina, based on the yearly millennial median income of $20,966, 44 percent of that is spent on an infant in center-based child care and 82 percent of that is spent on an infant and a 4-year-old in center-based child care.3

Future Generations

For two generations that have been affected by recessions, precarious employment, stagnant wages and high student loan debt, the cost of child care represents yet one more financial burden. These survey results show the next generation already deeply understands the challenge we are facing.1

The child care system we had before COVID-19 wasn’t sustainable, and it won’t be there after COVID-19 if we don’t do anything about it. Our federal and state governments can help this generation and our future generations by rethinking public investment in paying for child care. It can no longer happen on the backs of young parents. Otherwise, after COVID-19, the United States might have fewer future generations having children and fewer future generations in the workforce for the ones that will have children. Strengthening the child care system strengthens the backbone of our communities and economy.


[1] https://thenext100.org/millennials-and-gen-z-want-affordable-child-care/

[2] https://www.brighthorizons.com/employer-resources/millennial-parents

[3] https://www.childcareaware.org/millennial-map/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/23/87-percent-young-adults-say-child-care-costs-impact-the-decision-to-have-kids.html

[5] Marsha Basloe is not a millennial. Jennifer Gioia is a millennial.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at CCSA

Doris Gardner (pictured) is a family child care provider from Harnett County, North Carolina, with more than 20 years of early childhood experience and a master’s degree in early childhood education. She wrote to us in April after being denied a forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program that would have helped her make up for lost revenue and afford cleaning supplies.

“I chose to stay open, not because of the money,” Doris said. “I already had lost my private pay, but because I love what I do and my parents value me and my children need me. COVID-19 is not the time for children to be thrown into a new environment, if possible.”

Indeed, child mental health experts suggest that consistent and supportive relationships are one of the most important factors for minimizing young children’s stress responses to the pandemic. Predictability offers emotional protection during a time when young children are more likely to develop anxiety, sleeping problems, depression or unusual behaviors. But, predictability is difficult to maintain when some child care family homes and centers don’t have the resources they need to stay afloat.

Rose Alvarez, a child care provider and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship recipient from Mebane, North Carolina, has been out of work since the end of March because her center had to close.

“The whole world is suffering because of the pandemic,” Rose said. “Sometimes, I sit and think of what I really want to do when things get back to ‘normal.’ Do I want to return to work or just stay home and be safe with my family because no one knows what ‘normal’ will be after this.”

Advocates have stressed that, for the vitality of the early childhood system in North Carolina, this “new normal” must be better than the state of things before the pandemic. COVID-19 has brought many pre-existing flaws in the early childhood system to the fore, including a lack of support for family child care providers. Family child care providers like Doris not only face the logistical challenges of being self-employed while applying for federal COVID-19 aid, home providers also receive a smaller amount of financial relief from state level DHHS grants as centers as it is based on numbers of children served.

“We operate like centers (curriculums, education, safety, etc.), have the same needs (materials, food, supplies, bills, etc.) and are held at the same standards,” Doris shared. “At the end of the day as an essential worker, putting my family as well as my [own] life on the line…I do not feel as if I am on the same playing field as [those] who have centers…My peers have shared my sentiments which is why some opt to close, and others are thinking of permanently closing.”

Luckily, Doris wrote us again in June, and said she was able to receive a small business loan, which is helping her continue to support her families, as well as a couple of new families who needed emergency care due to COVID-19. She and other home providers still face challenges. She worries about the impact of remote schooling on providers with school-age children, because of pre-pandemic limits on the amount of screen time children are allowed to have.

Rose is maintaining as well, working toward her associate degree and completing workshops from home, and trying out new recipes. Her center has reopened, so she is waiting for the child care ratio to increase to see if she will be needed back at work. Rose said, “All we can do is take care of ourselves…and our families near and far.”

Coping with the changes of COVID-19 and righting the wrongs in our early childhood system will not be easy, but it is how we care for all our families, near and far. One step CCSA is taking is our COVID-19 Child Care Relief Fund, which is now open for a second round of grant funding to North Carolina child care programs in need. Grants will range in amount from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the magnitude of needs expressed, and the number of applicants awarded. Click here to apply by August 12, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

If you are a child care provider, how can we best care for you? How are you caring for yourself? Write to us here if you would like to share your story, and have the chance to be featured in a future blog post.


Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Blog Series

Introducing the Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Series: What COVID-19 Teaches Us and What We Already Knew

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Making Sense of March and April

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: The Trouble with “Heroism”

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Unraveling May and June

To be continued…

Double-Check Voter Registration Status

By Sydney Frost, Communications Intern at CCSA

Voting is a significant civic responsibility that can bring forth meaningful change for our country. Elected officials hold considerable influence over decisions that impact early childhood education for children, families, educators and communities. However, before you vote, it is important to double-check your voter registration status.

Double-Check Voter Registration Status

Each year, North Carolina is legally required to remove thousands of registered voters from its voter rolls as a “maintenance routine,” that many refer to as purging. It is essential to double-check your voter registration status because this “maintenance routine” can happen to anyone, anytime (even after you’ve already registered to vote for the current election year). 

How to Register to Vote 

According to Democracy NC, 500,000 voters were legally removed from North Carolina voter rolls in 2019. So, how can you prevent this from happening to you? If you think that you’re already registered to vote, you can double-check your status here. If you’re not registered to vote, you can do so here

Checking your voter registration status and registering to vote is simple and quick! Every vote is important in this election, so double-check that you’re registered to vote today. It’s important to take action and double-check now because you don’t want to discover on election day that you’re not registered to vote. 

Register to Vote for Children and Families

North Carolina is a leader in early childhood education (ECE), and your vote impacts funding for educational budgets, educator salaries, nutrition and student safety. Our state’s youngest children are depending on us to vote for them this November.

One of the best ways to advocate for the ECE community is by sharing your voice through voting. It’s up to each of us to continue supporting child care programs so that North Carolina continues to be a leader in early childhood education and promotes better lives for our youngest children who depend on us. 

Child Care Services Association’s (CCSA) mission is to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all families, which includes supporting the ECE workforce. CCSA is working with Democracy NC to provide important information about checking voter registration, registering to vote, absentee ballots and voting. You can find more resources at www.ncvoter.org.

boy toddler hugging teacher's leg

By Marsha Basloe, President, Child Care Services Association

Throughout North Carolina, with the onset of COVID-19, high unemployment and a reduction in income for many families, there are an increasing number of families with children at risk for homelessness. Governor Roy Cooper, through an executive order, and NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, through an emergency directive, prevented evictions for a temporary period, but that period is now over. And, yet, the conditions that lead to homelessness have increased, not declined.

U.S. Census Bureau surveyed households — April to now.

In April, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a new Household Pulse survey,[1] which is disseminated weekly to households in every state. The survey is designed to obtain real-time data about the impact of COVID-19 on households. Currently, the Household Pulse survey shows results for Week 10 – July 2-7.[2] For North Carolina, the results are alarming, particularly for families with children.

The percentage of households with children experiencing a decline in income since March 13 far exceeds households without children who have experienced a decline in income.

When renters were asked whether they paid their rent last month or not, one out of five households with children responded that they did not make their rent payment, nearly double the rate of nonpayment of households without children.

More troubling is that nearly two out of every five families with children in N.C. said that they didn’t have any confidence that they would be able to pay next month’s rent or that they had only a slight level of confidence about paying next month’s rent.

Still more troubling, N.C. households who say that they have no confidence or only a slight level of confidence about paying next month’s rent are deeply divided by race and ethnicity. Nearly half of Black households, nearly one-third of Hispanic households and nearly one-quarter of mixed-race households report little confidence about paying next month’s rent.

In the Triangle area, communities are taking action to prevent evictions.

The Wake County Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization has committed nearly $11.5 million in federal funding to provide housing support through community agencies.[3] The Chapel Hill Emergency Housing Assistance Program provides financial assistance for Chapel Hill residents facing a housing crisis or who need help securing permanent housing.[4] Durham County Crisis Assistance also offers rental support for households.[5] 

While eviction is traumatic for any household, it is particularly devastating for families with children. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in March includes a moratorium on evictions for households who live in properties receiving federal funding or backed by federal mortgages through July 25.[6] However, three out of every four households eligible for federal rental assistance do not receive it.[7] 

What can be done?

Governor Cooper can extend the moratorium on evictions for another six months. Coronavirus Relief Funds could be used to temporarily support rent payments as N.C. communities weather through the current public health emergency – prioritizing rental support for families with children. Without intervention, evictions for rent nonpayment will likely increase. The results of the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey should serve as an early warning bell. 

Currently, there is no federal or state data system to track evictions. Eviction records are held within county court systems, which makes obtaining data difficult. Princeton University started an eviction lab that includes an Eviction Tracking System to monitor weekly updates on the number of eviction cases being filed across the United States.[8] To date, 11 cities are participating. More cities are expected to be added in the year ahead. The Eviction Lab website calls on cities and states that want to be added to the Eviction Tracking System to let them know at info@evictionlab.org.

Homelessness is devastating for children. The warning bells are sounding loudly. It’s time for action to prevent homelessness. We can temporarily halt evictions for families with children, provide temporary rental support and commit to tracking eviction data for state and community data driven policies.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, Measuring Household Experiences during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

[2] Household Pulse Survey Week 10, July 2-7, 2020 results.

[3] Wake County Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization,.

[4] Chapel Hill Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

[5] Durham County Crisis Assistance.

[6] The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136.

[7] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

[8] Princeton University Eviction Lab.

*Graph Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 10, July 2-7, 2020 results.