Guest Opinion: Navigating the storm of child care and school closures during the pandemic | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

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Guest Opinion: Navigating the storm of child care and school closures during the pandemic

Original post made on Mar 27, 2020

COVID-19 is a stark reminder that crises affecting the large breadth of our population are never far away. Our children, parents and educators -- in sum, our future -- depend on the entire community to act now.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 27, 2020, 6:57 AM

Comments (2)

3 people like this
Posted by Viewer
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm

NBC Bay Area Report: “Parents Say School Expelled Elementary Students After Raising Coronavirus Concerns”. Is this insane or illegal? Can the authorities step in? Sure, it’s a private school and nobody can do anything.

Like this comment
Posted by Chuck Bernstein
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2020 at 12:50 pm

As the executive director of the HeadsUp! Child Development Centers in Palo Alto, San Jose, and Pleasanton (ages 0-6), I read with interest your call to arms regarding child care. Since we are open every day to care for the children of essential workers and incurring enormous financial losses doing so, let me tell you what really could and should be done:

1. The health directors should stop being ambiguous about the rules—Their orders require us to maintain a “stable population” of children, which we read to mean that we cannot accept new children of essential workers whose centers have closed. We have many available slots that we cannot fill with new children, either temporarily or permanently. That hurts us and it hurts parents who need care. (Meanwhile, we have kept all our staff who want to work employed, even though they are not all needed.)

2. Politicians should be clear about what kinds of financial help will be forthcoming—If child care businesses can be reimbursed for paying their workers who are not at work, why would any workers choose to work even if they are needed? Rather than pay employers for maintaining the compensation of child care workers, why not pay those needing child care or do both?

3. Editorial writers should be knowledgeable about the subject matter they are addressing—Most child care in California is licensed by the Community Care Licensing Division of the Department of Social Services, not the Department of Education, so the reference to the latter is not particularly helpful except for parents of children in subsidized care. Community Care Licensing has issued temporary waivers that suspend normal ratio and capacity requirements, and it now allows employers to open centers without any of the normal requirements for licensing. That represents a threat to the children of essential workers. At the same time, the agency has been silent about the meaning of “stable population” and has provide no guidance for existing private centers, most of which have chosen to close even though they have safer facilities, employees, and procedures than do the pop-up centers.

We can do much better than we are doing if our public servants were more prepared for disasters and used a little more common sense before issuing sweeping orders have some major downsides.

--Chuck Bernstein, President, Early Learning Institute
2800 West Bayshore Road, Palo Alto

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