June 22, 2022

Orange County Child Care Board honors providers for heroic work – OECD

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 2,150 licensed child care centers in the Orange County area accommodating just over 80,000 children, according to the Population Reference Bureau Resource Project, Children’s data. Child care spaces became a greater necessity in 2020 as there were 228,332 children aged 0-5 in the county.

To provide assistance with available space and childcare supplies, the OECD’s Orange County Childcare and Development Planning Council has established an ad hoc committee, called the Working Group. childcare emergency work. This group was established in April 2020 as a support system for providers across the county.

According to planning council data.

About six months ago, the board began thinking about ways to show its gratitude to the educators it supports. This led the task force to plan an event on April 30 with the help of local partner organizations and volunteers, to remind child care providers in Orange County that they are doing a heroic job. day after day. Held in the Orange County Department of Education parking lot, the appreciation event honored facilities that continued to care for children, with a drive-in ceremony.

Susan Shepardson, program specialist for the Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council and member of the OECD’s Early Learning Team, recognized the importance of providing support to providers caring for children during that their parents work on the front line.

“Child care is the backbone of our economy. They are the workforce behind our workforce,” Susan Shepardson said. “When the pandemic first hit, many providers remained open for business to provide care for the children of essential workers.”

With the theme, “Orange County Providers Helping Our Children Blossom,” a total of 460 child care provider cars pulled into the event. The task force committee said they appreciated the strong turnout and were delighted to celebrate the good work. Volunteers formed a car cheer line, handing out 920 gift bags to each vendor, topped with ‘I’m a childcare superhero’ yard signs and gifts of appreciation once they have reached the end.

Shepardson also said that “During this period, providers also struggled to obtain cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, to support school-aged students with distance learning and sometimes had to temporarily close. their doors due to covid exposures that resulted in loss of income. .”

Despite the shortage of supply and the lack of adequate distribution, the task force proved useful when child care providers could not afford to continue. In addition to administering resources to facilities, the Emergency Child Care Task Force has developed the local OC Child Care Database, in partnership with Early Childhood OC, to organize a line of direct communication between parents and county child care providers. The committee also helped locate storage sites for the proper storage and distribution of personal protective equipment and supplies to maintain a safe and sterile environment for children and staff.

The task force is made up of representatives from 14 local agencies and nonprofit organizations, including the Children’s Home Society of California and First 5 Orange County. Together, these organizations provided the resources and information needed to support child care workers once a state of emergency was declared in 2020.

Since the state has emerged from an emergency response to COVID-19, the work of the emergency task force will be handed over to the First 5 Orange County Strategic Planning Committee, according to Dr. Elida Garcia, administrator of the early learning services at the OECD.

Although the council does not currently have any childcare events on its calendar, members are planning more celebrations to come.

“We are unsure at this time of countywide child care provider appreciation event plans,” Dr. Garcia said. “It was a success, so hopefully we can hold similar events in the future.”