Research increasingly shows that the first five years of life are a critical period for child development. States have responded by ramping up the availability of services supporting early childhood development. But historically funding for those services has been spread across multiple state agencies, which makes it difficult for communities and service providers to ensure that families are getting what they need. As a result, states are increasingly focused on how they can rethink their governance systems to improve child and family outcomes.
As fall quickly approaches, difficult questions about the K-12 school year loom for parents, policymakers, and school administrators. The nation must weigh the academic and social benefits of in-person instruction with the health risks that students and teachers face if they return to classrooms. But discussions about reopening schools must also consider that schools serve an important function beyond academics. Schools serve as child care for working parents. Preliminary reopening plans include many blends of in-person and online instruction to mitigate viral transmission.
Michigan’s reopening economy needs child care. This educator’s struggle shows that rebooting centers won’t be easy.
LaShawn Bridges had spent months worrying about reopening her child care center in Detroit. But what happened on Monday was more like opening an entirely new center. Before the pandemic, students would have walked inside with their parents. Now Bridges met them outside with a handheld thermometer to screen them for fever, and parents weren’t allowed in the building. As soon as students walked inside, they were instructed to wash their hands. Everyone, including the kids, wore masks.