July 2020
Parent Connections
Top 3 Things To Know
#1 - Parent Guide to Child Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic
We know that the health and safety of your child is your top priority.  Seeking child care during the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging.  Here are some health and safety questions to ask when evaluating new child care options or speaking with your current child care provider. 
Does the program have a drop-off and pick-up procedure to reduce the spread of the virus?
Programs should consider staggering arrival and drop-off times and limiting direct contact with parents as much as possible. Programs should consider placing sign-in stations outside the program or at the entrance. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should be displayed next to parent sign-in sheets along with disinfecting wipes for cleaning pens between each use. 
Does the program conduct daily health screenings for staff and children? 
Programs should perform daily health screenings upon arrival, which should include questions, taking temperatures, and looking for visual signs of illness.  Symptoms can include a cough, sore throat, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, or extreme fussiness.  Programs should create and document a daily log of child and staff screenings.
Is the program following CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting?
Programs should have a cleaning plan in place that identifies what items must be cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected and with what frequency.  Programs should only use toys that can be easily cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis and label containers for dirty toys to be cleaned in all areas. The cleaning plan should include routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that are frequently touched. It should also include cleaning objects/surfaces not  ordinarily cleaned daily (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops).

#2 -  Be prepared
As a parent of a school age child, you want to be prepared for what might come in September 2020.

We are all waiting to see if schools are going to open, be virtual or both.
You are wondering: What am I going to do? Will my children be safe? What if I need to go back into the office? Who will watch my child? Will I find someone who can watch my child all day, before/after school? My child care program is closed, can I find another? HELP! 
As with many things during the COVID-19 pandemic there are a lot of uncertainty and constant changes. This is true for child care. Some child care programs/providers have been open throughout it all. Others  chose or had to close.  The before/after school programs were closed if they were located in a school building.  We do not know if the school age programs in schools will be able to reopen, even if the schools are open.

Know your child care options
  1. Call the Council for help in locating family child care homes, child care centers, or school age programs that are open. Contact us at 914-761-3456 ext. 140, [email protected] or complete a form online at www.childcarewestchester.org
  2. Check in with your previous school age program and ask about their plans. 
  3. Be creative but stay within child care regulations:
    • A college student in your home is an option and are not covered by child care regulations. Keep in mind, some college students may not be going back to school. They could be looking for work and are a good resource for families who need child care. Contact your local colleges to see if they have a job listing function to help you connect with students. 
    • You may think about connecting with other families to create a shared child care plan. However, an individual caring for more than 2 children, outside the child's home, for children not related to the individual, could be considered an illegal child care program. Especially if there is compensation for the care.  
    • Beware of "pop up"  child care programs. Programs need to be licensed or registered by OCFS typically when they operate for more than 3 hours a day, with more than 2 children, and have numerous activities (not a single purpose entity).   
  4. Talk to your employer. Ask your employer how they can support you if schools do not open and you need to be home with your child. Can you work virtually? Does your employer offer child care vouchers or child care benefits? 
#3 - Westchester DSS Subsidy Program Update

Westchester DSS requested permission from NYS OCFS to extend all their child care subsidy program waivers again for another 30 day period.  This waiver request was just approved.   

The waivers are in effect through August 31, 2020.   

We are grateful to Westchester DSS for taking this step and to OCFS for its approval.
Any questions, call a child care specialist at 914-761-3456 ext. 140

Advocacy Corner
Child Care Businesses Need More Help from CARES

Westchester was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care was deemed an essential service by Governor Cuomo.  Hundreds of our child care programs stayed open to make sure that first responders and other essential workers could take care of the rest of us.   
NYS received nearly $164 Million in Federal CARES Act funding for child care and has used this money to help essential workers pay for care and to defray some operating expenses of the child care businesses themselves.  But much more help is needed.   We urge the Governor and his administration to target the balance of CARES to plug the financial holes of the child care programs that answered his call back in March and stayed open, despite concerns about their own health and well-being.
Show your support for more CARES funding, NOW, for child care programs open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, by sending your letter to state officials.   Just CLICK HERE!
Standing Against Racism
The Child Care Council of Westchester would like to publicly condemn the recent acts of violence and hatred against people of color in this country. As leaders in the child care arena, we find ourselves today navigating through great anxiety, fear and helplessness felt by young children and their parents. For the past three months caregivers have struggled to provide services through a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic communities. Now, as the tragic racial acts in the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many before them come to light, we will not remain silent. And today, with the fear and grief still raw from the impact of COVID-19, which is threatening to wipe out thousands of child care businesses across the county, eliminating the opportunity for millions of young children to have access to affordable, high quality early care - we are faced with additional trauma in blatant racist behavior.
The child care profession is built upon values that uphold the dignity and worth of each individual child. Our goal is to foster and support diverse and inclusive classrooms, where young children can thrive and succeed. And, while this goal may seem more elusive today, we stand resolved to not give up, but to raise our voices clearly to denounce racist policies and to affirm our position to provide comfort and support for all young children.
The Council has advocated for the child care system that all of our children need and deserve, one that's affordable, high quality and accessible to all. It doesn't yet exist in the U.S. As with so many other American institutions, there are glaring disparities in child care; white children are more apt to be enrolled in high quality care than are children of color. Right away, access to the kinds of early learning experiences that can propel children forward, are limited if not denied to children of color. And the child care workforce itself, largely women, often women of color, is the most poorly paid of any profession. What could be a most powerful launch pad for all children, ends up perpetuating the racial disparities that weaken and sicken our country.
We will continue to fight for a truly equitable child care system. But we will also look inward to identify how we can more energetically fight against racism and all the forces that hurt our children, families and communities. To our constituents - employees, child care providers, community partners, Board members, and donors - we are here for you and would love to hear your thoughts.
This time must be different. Let us continue to push forward, learn from each other, and strengthen our communities to end injustice for people everywhere.
-This statement is from the staff and Board of Directors of the Child Care Council of Westchester, Inc.  Since this statement was released, the Council has formed a staff committee to make recommendations for training for our own team as we explore ways to make a greater impact in combating racism in our community.

Children's Corner
Starting Small - 
Teaching Tolerance in Preschool and the Early Grades

Excerpts From the Teachers Guide - Foreword By Vivian Gussin Paley: 
"The teachers of young children who speak to us so earnestly in the following stories work in different communities but share a common vision: that children can learn to care about every other person's feelings, beliefs and welfare.

Luckily for those who despair of society's ever being made into a kinder place, young children are far more empathetic by nature than we are prone to believe. They are enormously interested in being in the company of other children and are persistently curious about those who seem different. By the time children enter preschool, they are experienced people-watchers, and they know what makes someone laugh or cry.

The children are ready. They come to school wondering how those so different from themselves can have the same feelings and desires. And we, in turn, must learn how to help them put their intuitive knowledge of commonality into words and actions. This is what children enjoy doing and can do well; it is guaranteed to make our teaching come alive with purpose and meaning.

The teachers we are about to meet also understand that even within a seemingly safe classroom, someone can feel lost and frightened at any moment. They are prepared to stop everything and get everyone to pay attention, to listen to what the other person says and become keenly aware of what to say in response.

In so doing, they give credence to our ultimate goal as teachers in a democratic society: helping children become kind and caring participants in a world that includes everyone. These wise and compassionate teachers who are "starting small" will uncover and model for us the amazingly large moral dimensions of the classroom."
In This Issue
  • COVID-19 and Child Care
  • Activities to do from home
  • Mango and Banana Smoothie 
What's Happening at the Council
The Council is Open

We are open and here to help. The Council is operating mostly remotely but leave a message and send an email... we will respond. 

Community Resources
Sometimes a little help can go along way. 

If you struggle with having enough to eat, there is help. 

Feeding Westchester sources and distributes food all throughout Westchester. 
Agency Locator , helps you find the closest feeding program to meet your needs. 
Mobile Food Pantry Schedule , helps you find mobile food deliveries in your area
 Network Feeding List, is a list of feeding partners throughout Westchester  
Learn more: 

United Way's 2-1-1 is a free, confidential, multilingual information and referral helpline open 365 days a year, 9am-7pm.

United Way's 2-1-1 call specialists can give you information about things such as:
  • Food Assistance
  • Housing assistance and shelters
  • Abuse prevention
  • Elder care
  • Mental health services
  • Recycling regulations
  • Services for people with disabilities
  • How to become a foster parent
  • Where to get medical help and more
Learn more:  www.uwwp.org

Health and Safety

Things to Do
Check with your local library, as many are doing virtual story times with kids. 

What's Cooking
Mango & Banana Smoothie

  • 1 Medium Mango
  • 1 Banana
  • 500ml Orange Juice
  • 4 Ice Cubes

  1. Cut the mango down the center either side of the flat stone, then peel and cut the flesh into chunks.
  2. Peel and chop the banana.
  3. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process till smooth and thick. Keep in fridge and use the day you make it.