From CommonWealth Magazine we share two articles of interest for Franklin:
"CHILD CARE’S CRITICAL importance to our economy was obvious as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the Commonwealth. Some parents scrambled to work remotely while caring for children. Others rushed to secure care so they could perform essential work, much of it on the frontlines to ensure the health and well-being of Massachusetts residents.
But even as the pandemic revealed the essential nature of child care, it’s also made it more vulnerable than ever. Lawmakers are entering a critical moment for the early education and care sector as they debate the 2021 fiscal year budget. And the pandemic may be coloring perceptions about the demand for child care that could hurt children and families in the long run.
The fact is that the child care supply has dwindled in Massachusetts during the pandemic as providers closed in the face of fiscal challenges or limited enrollment to accommodate new safety protocols. The Department of Early Education and Care recently reported that enrollment is at 66 percent of pre-COVID numbers. This sharp drop includes parents who have chosen not to send their children or who now need very different arrangements than they did prior to the pandemic. As lawmakers account for these changes in the upcoming budget, do the current COVID-related trends signal decreased demand and justify a reduction in investments to stabilize and secure the sector?
The simple answer? No. "
"IF THERE WAS ever any doubt that the state’s system of early education and care for very young children was on the brink of crisis with far-reaching consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has erased it. Congresswoman Katherine Clark, whose bill to invest $50 billion in the sector was passed by the House of Representatives in July, recently said that a COVID-19-related lack of access to child care was “holding our economy hostage.”Her observation is borne out by testimony collected in September by the state’s Commission on the Status of Women. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of women reported that COVID-19-related changes to child care arrangements had affected their ability to work. Included in this group were early care and education business owners themselves, who explained that if their own children could not attend school then they could not keep their businesses open. One reported that she was on the verge of losing her child care center, which had been serving her community for 17 years.Solutions such as Congresswoman Clark’s bill, which treats child care and early education programs as an essential public good requiring public investment, are key to ensuring that the sector doesn’t collapse under the weight of urgent needs from young families and their employers. Given the complex problems facing the field and early educators’ expertise and innovative approaches to problems of practice, it’s also important to center early educators in the policy making process."
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