Next Meeting: June 3 | 6:00 p.m.

Zoom Link Here

 

April 1

We know that this time is stressful, not only for you but for the families you serve.We are here for you and want to know your concerns and answer your questions to the best of our ability. We also want to give you an opportunity to support each other in sharing solutions that you’ve found to address your unique challenges. We will talk weekly and the invitation is at the end. Please follow our Facebook page or website for more updates. 

We have also created a Facebook group for all of you. There, you can seek peer support, share new information and our staff will be on there for support. Search ‘United 4 Children Provider Group‘ in your Facebook search bar.

You can always call or email us if you need anything:

helpme@united4children.org | 314-252-0078

Attendance

  • 54 people participated on the call
  • We had representation from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Illinois
  • We had representation from home based and center based child care programs

Thoughts Expressed

  • Feelings of worry, confusion, frustration, and fear were expressed
  • Scared to re-open since there are unknowns for the health of everyone involved
  • Need to keep staff calm
  • Staff are worried about: pay, getting sick, risk for their family, children spreading the virus
  • Children feeling sad since they are unable to see their friends
  • Uncertainty of state and county requirements
  • Desire to hear more communication from child care licensing and subsidy programs 
  • Directors struggling to “keep it together” for the sake of staff, children, and families
  • Thankful DSS has stated payment will be made for the month of March

Questions

  1. How long are childcare programs supposed to stay closed? This answer is dependent upon your location and type of program. If you do wish to reopen make sure to follow your local, state, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to protect you and your family. Also contact Child Care Aware of MO at referralcenter@mo.childcareaware.org or complete this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GJ92VXG
  2. Where can we find a list of open centers? Contact Child Care Aware for information about open centers
  3. Are there any centers open who may need extra teachers? Child Care Aware is connecting teachers to programs. They are keeping a list of teachers to match to programs in need. 
  4. For afterschool programs– does anyone have information on how we can serve families being that school is closed? Ideas that we are hearing are for staff to contact families and check in on needs and matching to resources. Programs are offering food, school supplies, and other basic needs for families. Additionally, offers for providing activity kits and online resources for children to remain engaged have been made. Leadership within programs are encouraging online training for direct care staff. 
  5. How do we cover classroom ratio for teacher bathroom and lunch breaks if teachers are not supposed to move in and out of classrooms? Work diligently to follow your local guidelines and recommendations (available in the resource section below). Keep in mind that your top priority is your children. You are competent and know how to support them best. Trust your instincts, you’ve got this!
  6. How can we get supplies that are limited? The supplies needed are: hand santitizer, lysol, and thermometers. United 4 Children is working to look for places where bulk resources can be bought. We will keep people updated on this opportunity. Also, take a look at the Facebook page (in the Resource section, below) for this group, many people have “insider” tips on when deliveries are made to stores so you can be first in line to make purchases. Also, a caution on buying thermometers on Amazon, some of the ones available are celsius only. These can still be used, but you will need to convert this to fahrenheit: https://www.metric-conversions.org/temperature/celsius-to-fahrenheit.htm.
  7. Where are distribution sites? Different organizations are doing distribution for different types of products. Some of the major ones being Operation Food Search and St. louis Diaper Bank and you can find more information on their linked websites.
  8. If you’re staying closed how are you helping to ease the stress of families and staff? Suggestions given included: Putting together packets for kids to do while closed, mailed families a book, short term unemployment, teachers are facetiming students and their families, Facebook posts and individual family contacts 
  9. Are we marking full time care or absences for children that aren’t in care? If your center is closed you should be marking absences.
  10. Should we cut the ratio? Ratios are being determined by county health departments, so verify with your county to assure you are following the appropriate ratio. Currently many counties are operating that in-home, non-licensed child care programs can have a maximum of 6 and in-home licensed a maximum of 10.

Resources

St. Louis County stay at home order

St. Louis City stay at home order

Basic Needs form with United 4 Children

Child Specific Need form with United 4 Children

United 4 Children COVID-19 website

United 4 Children website

Illinois stipend opportunity

Loan opportunities

Next Steps

  • Every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. we will host a ZOOM meeting that will include early childhood educator discussion and a short segment that addresses specific topics of need. 
April 8

We know that this time is stressful, not only for you but for the families you serve.We are here for you and want to know your concerns and answer your questions to the best of our ability. We also want to give you an opportunity to support each other in sharing solutions that you’ve found to address your unique challenges. We will talk weekly no matter the size of participants and the invitation is at the end. Please follow our Facebook page or website for more updates. 

We have also created a Facebook group for all of you. There, you can seek peer support, share new information and our staff will be on there for support. Search ‘United 4 Children Provider Group‘ in your Facebook search bar.

We would like to hear from you on how these meetings are going and how we can improve so you get the most value out of these weekly meetings. Please fill out the FORM.

Attendance

  • 24 people participated on the call
  • We had representation from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Illinois
  • We had representation from home based and center based child care programs

COVID-19 Help Highlight: Balance during stress

  • Reframing
  • Consistent schedules
  • Be optimistic and share these thoughts with others
  • Breathe in for 2 and out for 4
  • Journal 
  • Use your favorite things as a way to decompress and relax
  • If you are social, find ways to be social: ZOOM, video calls, etc.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff, let it go: https://youtu.be/YVVTZgwYwVo
  • Work out the stress- bikes, walking, running, yoga

How Can You Reduce Stress Presentation

Peer to Peer Support

What are you doing to stay in balance?

  • Walking
  • Taking the dog to the river
  • Being outside
  • Cleaning
  • Putting on “real” clothes
  • Binge watching
  • Being with our children
  • Talking to neighbors in social distancing
  • Marco Polo scavenger hunt, played games
  • Share a “star” with someone you love (pick a star and look at it together even when you’re apart)
  • Turn away from the news to reduce stress

Next Steps

  • Every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. we will host a ZOOM meeting that will include early childhood educator discussion and a short segment that addresses specific topics of need.
  • You are invited to attend our next meeting on April 15, 2020 at 11:00 am. The link to join is: https://zoom.us/j/190964897?pwd=aU9HK1Nha1lyalA1T2YyUWVEdjdWdz09
April 15

Welcome

  • We had 28 participants

COVID-19 Help Highlight: Basic Needs

  • U4C is continuing to contact programs to discover basic needs that you have. These calls are for data collection so we can communicate needs to other agencies. While we will continue to work to collect and distribute the items you are in need of, these phone calls are not a guarantee to supplies. 
  • Providers expressed the need for contact with the public health department to ensure they are using basic need items and PPE effectively. Deanna is working diligently to make this connection so be looking forward to new information at next week’s call. 

Peer to Peer Support

  • Providers expressed the need for:
    • Ideas to support teachers when they come back, making sure to reduce stress
    • Ideas to support children in being comfortable with masks covid19 masks
    • Check in procedures for children
    • More guidance from the CDC for supporting child care. Since the call new CDC information came out
    • Thermometers 
    • Understanding how to support first responders children as the new recommendation is that they be kept separate from other children

Questions and Answers

  1. Open centers- what has been your experience by families and tuition payments? Have you charged less, etc. Providers reported they are charging their normal rate as they are providing the same services
  2. Will there be subsidy increase or state vouchers due to increased service/requirement? This is a question for DSS and Deanna is reaching out to Cindy, at DSS, to find out more
  3. How can we learn more about the PPP? A flyer explaining the PPP option

U4C Strategic Plan

  • One of our biggest priorities is to begin Client Advisory Groups. U4C wants to hear from you about how we can better meet your needs. We will continue to update the group as we move forward with this plan. If you are interested in being on the Client Advisory Group please email Elisa: ziege@united4children.org

Next Steps

Additional Helpful Thoughts: 

  • Reverend Lee reminded the group that we need to keep a focus on or shift our focus toward core priorities of safety and emotional support for our children and families. 
  • Tina gave a recommendation for the story Ruby’s Worry.

 

April 22

COVID-19 Help Highlight: Mini Grant Opportunity 

Each week, as long as funds are available, you are eligible to submit a mini-grant to ask for supplies for your child care program. To learn more visit: https://united4children.org/2020/04/united-4-children-ece-covid-19-response-fund/

Peer to Peer Support

We broke into small groups to have more intimate conversations around 4 areas:

  • Supporting Staff
  • Supporting Children
  • Supporting Families
  • Using PPE’s

After this we shared an overview of our conversations. A few notes from these small groups include:

  • The need for a timeline and tips of how to reopen successfully
  • Need of PPE to be able to reopen
  • Uncertainty of if teachers will return
  • Concerns of safety of teachers as many are already immunocompromised 
  • Reflections that these calls need to be in the evening so open centers and programs can participate
  • Concerns about the state directions for being open being different than each county
  • Concerns about announcement being made over the weekend which makes it hard to communicate to teachers and families effectively
  • Information from Stephanie Chandler with DHSS was shred:
  • Cindy from Kids International shared this article to help us navigate some of our feelings right now: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/first-responders-needs-mean-tough-choices-for-child-care-providers/ar-BB1309O3?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=hplocalnews  
  • An online space that programs are connecting with families is TikTok
  • Teachers are nervous about coming back and want to feel confident in their personal safety
  • Closed programs want support from open programs to gain ideas on what to do as they begin to reopen

Questions and Answers

  • Will there be support for curriculum, hot spots, or technology for school age programs? We are working with the Regional Response Team on this and are reaching out directly to that team to give more information soon. 
  • How many providers are actually open? Currently between St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City County right at 300, we are at about 30% capacity across the state. 
  • How are Nutrition reimbursements going? Our regularly scheduled disbursements are going as normal, same as it has been. You can always contact your nutrition consultant at 314.531.1412 to ask more specific questions. They also have a facebook group here: U4C Child Nutrition Services
    1. Can we get a check list that shows a week before you open this is what you do? Yes, we are working with the state, and health department to create this.
    2. Can families use U4C or other programs at this time? Yes, we are supporting families as well as providers to make sure our children with special needs have their needs met during this time. The link to the survey for the families is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1zXHC2Nx7NfWIT1eU0h87iF2MJkSgAn8bTCCJ5N5yGik/edit. The Belle Center is able to support programs as well.
  • How can we make our children and families comfortable when drop off is happening at the front door and not at their classroom? We are working on creating resources to support everyone involved. Additionally, we are working to bring more open programs onto the calls to share what has been working and what hasn’t been working. 

Next Steps

We are moving these weekly calls to 6:00 pm in the evening.

April 29

COVID-19 Help Highlight: St. Louis Department of Health

We welcomed Dr. Baskin from the St. Louis Department of Health to answer questions on how to best support children, families, and educators during the COVID-19 crisis. 

  1. How do we use masks appropriately, keeping in mind that some are paper and some are cloth? Paper masks- wear it once, don’t touch, if soiled change it. Cloth- same as paper but wash daily 
  2. Best protocol for gloves? It is not helpful to wear gloves constantly. Still use them as you should for diapering, toileting, etc. The most important thing is to follow hand hygiene practices and wash hands consistently. Watch the recommendations for hand sanitizer as it is not recommended for some ages.
  3. How much cleaning is too much cleaning? There is never too much cleaning. Make sure to separate groups, stagger recess, lunch rooms access, drop off and pick up so cleaning can be done in between.  
  4. What is a good example of child drop off/pick up to prevent cross-contamination? Families should have limited access to programs, check for fever or other illness symptoms. Stagger drop off to clean area in between families. 
  5. Do the children need to wear masks? No, masks are designed to mostly protect others. Not realistic for children to wear them. 
  6. What extra precautions should be taken for teachers who are immunocompromised? Teachers who are immunocompromised should not be on boarded (began work) into the program. 
  7. What if a teacher or parent exhibits symptoms? Teachers should stay home until symptom free for 72 hours and for 10 days after on set of symptoms.  If parents exhibit symptoms, child doesn’t need to stay home since we need to assume all children coming in are bringing germs with them. 
  8. What can families do to prevent cross-contamination? When a child gets home strip their clothes, give bath, wash clothes. Come to school in clean clothes. The overall health of a child is important to keep them and others healthy. Minimize contact between parents and teachers.  
  9. What if a parent has a lab confirmed illness? Child should stay home 
  10. Should we take a temperature? Yes, this is the bare minimum of what should be checked at drop off.
  11. What else should be asked? 1. Is there difficulty breathing? 2. Gastrointestinal issues? Questions on form? 3. Is there fever? 5. Have there been respiratory issues? 
  12.  What ideas are there for accommodating required ratios per county recommendations but using my building to full capacity? Keep 1 teacher per group of children, do not mix groups, use environmental cleaning, have children follow healthy hygiene practices, avoid touching faces, wash hands, break classes down to 10 or less, use partitions to separate a classroom into sections. 
  13. What do we do if a child becomes sick? Do not need to close the whole centers, just the rooms the child was in. Close for 2-5 days for appropriate decontamination.
  14. What do we do if a teacher become sick? Same as a child unless the teachers have a common room (break room) then close off that space as well. 
  15. How many children/ child care staff has anyone been diagnosed? Unsure
  16. Playground equipment? Disinfect daily and if more than one group clean in between groups
  17. Changes needed for nap time routine and blankets? Bring blankets from home, do not swap blankets, wash blankets at home, unless there is contamination and clean sooner. 

General Tips

  • A child care center director gave an idea of getting a variance for group size
  • Virus can live on some surfaces for up to 72 hours
  • Virus is easy to kill, can be killed by alcohol, bleach, and soap
  • Recommend to prepare parents for changes
  • Sack lunch and eat in classrooms is recommended

Peer to Peer Support: Open Center Testimonial

  • Diana shared that with the Educare Project Reach calls programs are reporting that everyone is healthy. They have stated that cleaning and hand washing are making all the difference.
  • Tanya reported an enrollment drop. She is bleaching everything and using 5 tablespoons for bleach per gallon of water. She uses this spray solution everywhere, even fabrics and hasn’t had an issue with staining. A child in her care whose family member had been diagnosed with COVID-19 came back after quarantine. All is going well! 
  • Programs are planning for ppes, ordering supplies, cleaning carpets, and much more.
  • There was concern mentioned about families not being forthcoming with symptoms during morning drop off. 
  • Thermometers are becoming available again for purchase on Amazon.
  • U4C and First Steps to Equity Collaborative is supporting Community Hubs that will have supplies for child care programs while supplies last. For more information about this please contact our office at 314-531-1412 to inquire about a hub near you!

Next Steps

  • May 6- In partnership with Kids Win Missouri Community Conversation and Listening Session.  Invite your networks and your families to help inform statewide and regional policies and funding. Everyone’s voice is needed.
  • May 13- Learn from our Inclusion Specialists about ways you can support children’s social and emotional development during this time!

s.

May 13

COVID-19 Highlight: Social and Emotional Needs of Children

  • Wendy and Gina, 2 of our Inclusion Specialists presented on the Social and Emotional Needs of Children. This reflection was in light of children coming back into programs and struggling to readjust. We had a great conversation with suggestions of how to greet children, interact with children, and still show lots of love in the midst of this crisis. 
  • A video link that was shared called The Hug that Helped Change Medicine is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YwT_Gx49os&t=2s
  •  To dive further into supporting children’s social-emotional development, enjoy 2 hours of free clock hour training courtesy of U4C! https://sl4k.z2systems.com/np/clients/sl4k/publicaccess/eventCalendarBig.jsp

Resources: City guidance, collaboration information  

Peer to Peer Support

  • Participants reflected their concerns with reopening and suggestions on how they are making decisions personally. 

Questions and Answers

  • When will DSS subsidy payments come out? What we have heard is that due to COVID-19 changes in the payment system some calculations were needing to be made by hand which has slowed payments. We have heard that the computer error which caused the slow down is corrected and we should know more soon. 

 

  • The City and County updates for businesses in some cases reduces the number of children we are able to serve (below the previous 12 amount). Which ratio do I follow? U4C has reached out to both the City and County on this issue and are awaiting a response. As soon as we find out we will let everyone know. 

Next Meeting Dates

  • May 27
  • June 3
May 20

COVID-19 Highlight: Reopening Q&A Session

 

Questions

Answers

Are there going to be stationed for the workers to switch and in and out of work clothes so their families aren’t exposed to Covid19. 

No formal guidance looks like what is comfortable for you. If you walk through the center in “clean” clothes you are getting germs. Health care workers are recommended to change when you get home. Have a smock, button-down shirt, to be able to change if needed during the day. Not wearing shoes in their home, have work shoes separate. 

How often will students and staff be tested

Check when they come in, use common sense. If they start feeling warm later in the day check as needed. Take the temperature of families if you are allowing them inside. 

If it is recommended for siblings to be together, what about children of staff, do they need to be with their family member?

Use your best judgement. Main guidance is to stay with their assigned group for the entire day. 

I am open currently caring for essential workers children. I am curious how we will transition back into our regular license capacity. I have parents preparing to return to work and wanting to send their child back and I am not supposed to care for them until my emergency license for essential workers is switched back to my group care license.

Many variations can exist, reach out to U4C for specific guidance. Need a facility plan overall and how you are going to decide to take children as you are able to take more children. Set goals for increase and get a handle there and know which kids you will be able to take at that point. 

How long is suggested for a center to keep the records of the daily health checks?

For the time being keep a track, could be scanned and saved on the computer, spreadsheet, or creating a file for the documents. Very important for areas with a high concentration of COVID-19. 

Will there be any financial support from state or federal governments to support the added costs centers must now incur to keep staff and children healthy? Are there any estimates of how much fees paid by parents will need to rise to comply with our new reality?

Hoping to find out what funds are coming in and what that actually looks like. Follow up with De about potential funding opportunities. 

Lift up family set with regional work 

Going out if the building and re-entry

Wear separate mask if the staff leave for personal reasons and can come back to their mask at the center. 

The person responsible for health check is supposed to wash her hands and change gloves between each child doesn’t she? Is she going to use hand sanitizer instead?

Washing hands between each interaction is key. If gloves are worn she would need to change gloves between each interaction. 

Soap and water is the best. Hand sanitizer should be used as an added layer of germ-killing if you decide to use it.  It should be used when soap and water is not accessible.  Hand sanitizer alone is not recommended. 

Should classrooms avoid things like group time?

Spread children out for group time, planning space for center time, and lunch time. Try to get a wide spread. 

Lots! Particularly on arrival and departure, who is/isnt allowed in building and playground procedures.

Haven’t seen formal things, encourage hand washing before they leave. Plan for clothes, leaving smocks at the school. Staggering departure and drop off times. Could a family wait in the car until it’s safe for them to come and do drop off. Requirements not set, use best judgment. Think through who you may want in the home: social workers, specialists, families, how great is the need and weigh it out. Limit exposure overall. Think of the person who may be coming in and their safety. agree – limiting as much as possible. Even having same parent/person pick up and drop off for the day, if possible

For daily health screenings …. If a staff / child doesn’t have a fever, any recommendations for how many other symptoms would require exclusion?

What you ask for a normal check and the specific covid symptoms. 

Will there be any help with getting needed supplies like hand sanitizer?

Community hubs, most are out of sanitizer, where are you located 

is it law to take temp and log each child’s daily health screen right now for in home 10 or less? 

Licensing has not changed regulations and are making recommendations. Not law but best practice. 

 

Next Meeting Dates

  • May 27
  • June 3

Follow our Facebook page and website for more updates.  You can always call us or email us if you need anything:   helpme@united4children.org     | 314-252-0078