Thank you to the library staff who joined us for today’s conversation regarding the child care and preschool crisis in Idaho and throughout the nation. As mentioned during the conversation, and also in the August 2020 issue of “The Scoop,” a large percentage of child care centers and private daycare providers are perilously close to going out of business due to the pandemic.
Read more about the issue here: Idaho’s child care industry ‘literally on the verge of collapse’
In addition to private childcare instability, many Head Start and district preschool centers will be decreasing the number of slots available for children in need in order to maintain health district safety protocols.
As community anchors, libraries are in a position to help meet the needs of children and families who have limited access to preschool programs, and who may need assistance finding child care support this fall. Here are some things you can do:
- Watch recorded conversation from August 11, 2020, Kindergarten Readiness in a Pandemic (one hour)
- Host a Ready! for Kindergarten workshop for parents
- Contact child care providers and preschool teachers in your area to find out what they need and what resources are available at the library
- Create Kindergarten Readiness kits that providers and parents/caregivers can check out
- Let parents/caregivers know they can find child care openings and/or assistance through Idaho’s 211 careline (dial 2-1-1)
- Utilize library makerspace resources and/or volunteers to sew masks or make PPE for child care centers: Connect with STEM Action Center first, https://stem.idaho.gov/idahomakersunite/
- Assemble Take-and-Make kits for parents/caregivers and/or child care providers
- Partner with food distribution programs to distribute library information about resources available
- Include library information and resources in city utility bills
- Offer snacks/meals at the library: See https://www.sde.idaho.gov/cnp/, or contact Staci Shaw or Emily Sitz
- Order free ICfL Read to Me Support Materials, which contain activities parents/caregivers can do with their children at home
ICfL’s Kindergarten Readiness Grant can help your library fund some of these ideas, as well as other ways your library can support preschool children and families. Application due August 31, 2020.
To find out if there are specific ways in which your library can support child care and preschool efforts in your community, contact the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC):
Martin Balben, Preschool the Idaho Way Project Director
Jonny Carkin, Advocacy & Coalition Assistant Director Preschool the Idaho Way Project
Please contact me if you have any questions about these issues, to to brainstorm ways your library can support early learning, or to chat about possible grant projects!