Myra Crouch, Ph.D., Education Consultant
July 16, 2021
The national conversation is not focused nearly enough on early care and education, which is a critical period of child development and education. While child care and early childhood programs struggle to keep their doors open, young children birth to age 8 are experiencing a loss like no other. The value of early childhood educators during this disruption are at huge risk as the industry begins to adjust to their new normal. There is so far that remote learning can go to support the social-emotional development and special learning needs of young children as they strive to thrive. More than a year into the pandemic later, experts at the Center for the Changing Family at USC that this disruption to children's education and access to affordable child care access is the most pressing issue currently facing families, which has exposed the increasing weight that women carry in providing child care and in the workforce. As an educational psychologist, my biggest concern is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is having on how early childhood educators are preparing to ensure that their practices of equity and inclusion are fully sound and ready for young children as they re-enter classrooms after experiencing family, friends and neighbor care, smaller class sizes to meet CDC guidelines and adjusting to differences in instruction.
The call for action is tremendous and a great weight will be lifted if we engage all stakeholders from the beginning to make sure we get it right. Making the investment in childcare infrastructure, connecting caregivers to community services, and supporting families as they return to the workforce after being without a job is only one critical step to what will make the return successful. As we know that one-size does not fit all. We must be intentional and educate the workforce and parents on the emphasis of intervention and transition practices that must be instituted to ensure that all children's needs are understood and addressed. While most states and localities are allocating resources from the American Rescue Plan Act, educators should not ignore the impact that a national framework from federal support will have to ensure that we are able to get back to the education, social-emotional, health, and economic well-being of children and their families.