(Point of View) A salute to the child care community

On a typical workday, knowing your little one is safe, happy and thriving in quality child care is essential to a parent or caregiver’s peace of mind.

During a crisis – like the one we’re experiencing with COVID-19 – safe, reliable, quality child care is essential to our whole community’s well-being.

This is why, today, we salute those quiet, every day heroes: child care workers.

Child care staff help teach our children to share, wait their turn and sing the alphabet. They help teach our children to sit quietly while listening to a story and run wildly on the playground. They, in our absence, love our children like their own.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit many child care sites hard: Families were afraid to send their children; staff were wary of getting sick; cleaning and sanitizing several times a day, and supplying staff with personal protective equipment, was an unbudgeted, high cost. 

The crisis led some child care sites to close temporarily, while others shut down for good. Even today, more than seven months since the lockdown, not all of the Palm Beach County’s nearly 700 licensed sites are back to full capacity. But many did their best to operate during the long summer – opening their doors despite the challenges so parents could return to work and families could pay their bills. 

These businesses are the little engines that could – keeping our local economy humming under extreme duress. 

Having safe, reliable, quality child care means medical professionals and support staff can care for the sick. It means first responders can be there in our time of need. It means school teachers can educate our students. It means grocery store clerks, truck drivers and warehouse workers can stock the shelves so we have food, toilet paper and so much more.

On a good day, caring for young children eight, 10, even 12 hours a day can be grueling work – wiping tears, kissing boo boos, changing diapers and repeating yourself over and over again. 

During a pandemic – fixing masks, washing hands again and again, sanitizing door knobs, tables, chairs, toys and playground equipment – it’s downright heroic.
On behalf of the entire steering committee of the Birth to 22 Alliance, we are grateful to our community, which has continued to support Children’s Services Council’s funding of child care – including $1.3 million in waived parent fees and $50,000 in PPE equipment and supplies. We are grateful to the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County, which has provided nearly $2.7 million in scholarships for 1,467 first responders and other essential workers, as well as other supports and services to child care sites and parents. We are grateful to the Board of County Commissioners, who provided $900,000 for scholarships for school-age children.
But most of all, we are grateful to the thousands of child care workers across Palm Beach County who show up, every day, for our children – and for all of us.

Thank you.

Lisa Williams-Taylor, Tammy Fields and Warren Eldridge 

Note: Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Tammy Fields, Director of Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Department, and Warren Eldridge, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County, are steering committee members of the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Alliance. 

This Point of View was published in The Palm Beach Post Oct. 16, 2020. Click here to read it in the newspaper. 

About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.

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