As a company submerged in the world of child care, we know how vital child care providers are to our economy. Child care is essential for working parents. Additionally, students who attend high quality child care facilities early in life develop stronger skills, are less likely to require special education classes, and are more likely to earn higher wages and have fewer interactions with the justice system as adults.
With an ongoing pandemic and an upcoming election, what does that mean for the future of child care?The answer relies on Millennials and Gen Z.
Millennials make up roughly 35% of the workforce, which makes their generation the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (source). Gen Z, while up and coming into the workforce, is reported as the hardest hit for job loss before and during the pandemic (source). The child care industry should look to these two generations to understand where the industry is headed.
Where do the younger generation’s priorities lie?
According to Next100 and GenForward, 81 percent of young adults (in these two generations) believe that access to affordable, high-quality child care is an important issue.
72 percent of respondents said that the lack of high-quality child care programs and their cost is a barrier to achieving their professional goals.
This data is confirmed by the United States Census Bureau, which finds that one in five of working adults said they are not working is because COVID-19 disrupted their child care arrangements.
Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to child care demands.
Millennials have also been slower to establish households than previous generations have been. They tend to get married and have children later in life. However, Millennials now make up the majority of annual U.S. births. If this trend continues into Gen Z, Millennials and Gen Z will be a topic of the child care industry for years to come.
With younger generations coming out of college and into the workforce with increasing student loan debt and rising rent prices, it stands to reason that the cost of child care would be a large factor in an employment decision.
How could the election affect the future of child care?
Child care is a topic that transcends party lines. Young Democrats, Republicans and Independents all agree that child care is important. 86 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents identified child care as an important issue.
A whopping 92 percent of those surveyed from Care.com indicated that child care is a topic they feel should get more attention from the government as a result of the pandemic. 71 percent of families say that child care policies will impact how they vote in the upcoming election.
Younger generations are coming into the workforce and creating families in massive numbers. This means that Millennials and Gen Z’s employment decisions will be dependent on the child care industry for the foreseeable future. With COVID-19 and job loss among this demographic, cost and accessibility will be huge issues for those re-joining the workforce. These groups are now having families, so it’s no surprise that they will demand more affordable and accessible care. In an upcoming election year, the future of child care will be a hot topic with one of the largest groups of voting age.
COVID-19 is known for being dangerous because it is primarily spread through respiratory droplets. However, it is also possible to catch the virus from certain surfaces. It can live on plastic from a few hours to a few days. That is why it is imperative that every teacher know the safest ways to clean toys and which toys to leave out of the classroom. Smartcare has compiled a list of helpful tips from the CDC specifically for childcare workers.
Any toy that has been placed in a child’s mouth or contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside until it can be properly cleaned by someone wearing gloves. They should follow these steps:
Clean with water and detergent
Sanitize with EPA-registered disinfectant
Air dry the toy
Each of the toys should be kept to a specific classroom. Toys should not be passed to a different group before being washed and sanitized.
Unfortunately, you cannot wash books. However, the CDC has deemed books not a high risk for transmitting the virus. Your classrooms should be completely fine to have as many books as you wish.
Fabric toys such as stuffed animals are fine to keep in the classroom as long as they are not passed between the kids. It is best for each child to have their own fabric toy that they keep through the entirety of the day.
Once a child has used a toy, they should not share it until it has been properly washed. The toy needs to be kept in a container of soapy water. This way the teachers are aware which toys have been used. This container must be kept out of reach of children for a risk of drowning.
Lastly, any toy that you feel cannot be fully cleaned and sanitized should not be used.
Smartcare believes strongly that education in general and childcare in particular are entering a “new normal”. What this means is that many of the common practices in place before COVID-19 will need to be replaced with practices better suited to current challenges.
One of the first things that we think the student will change is the check-in process.
In the pre-COVID era, the process typically involved a parent entering a common space like a lobby, interacting with a fingerprint scanner to authenticate themselves, and then handing off a child to a staff member.
Before COVID, Smartcare modernized this process with the use of touchless QR codes, and while removing a fingerprint scanner dramatically reduces contact points, we think the process can be better.
We think the best practice in the new normal will look something like this:
Families will queue in socially distanced location such as the family’s car in a drop-off line in front of the school.
Either the parent or the student’s teacher will complete a pre-drop-off health-check. The CDC has provided guidance and we anticipate that guidance will evolve over time. At this time, those guidelines include:
Temperature checks for fevers over 100.4 degrees.
Signs of illness including coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, extreme fussiness, nausea
Technology can automate validating the health-check to ensure it meets regulatory requirements and the school’s own preferences. A child who poses a risk to others never enters the facility, and so that staff and parents have the peace of mind that their child is a in a safe environment.
The student’s teacher can take custody of the child in a well-ventilated, socially-separated space such as directly from the child’s car in a drop-off line, and escort the child directly to a classroom. From here, the child will stay with classmates and remain isolated from other classes in the school, minimizing contact points along the way. This ensures separation from other students in other classes.
Within a school, classes should be kept as separate as possible. Where common areas must be shared, to the extent possible, those areas should be used by only one class at a time and disinfected between uses. All areas and toys should be disinfected regularly.
Where the above procedure isn’t possible, we recommend the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and barriers to minimize the exposure to staff and families.
Smartcare has functionality to support the new normal in your center and our team of customer success managers can help you update your procedures for the new normal. We have a report to help you track health checks and our teacher app allows for touchless check-in wherever its best suited for you to do so. You should expect improvements from us over the summer as we get more feedback.
We are committed to be your technology partner as we navigate into the new normal together.
Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with the anxiety and stress will make you, your families and those around you stronger. Anxiety symptoms can include excessive worrying, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and difficulty concentrating.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations depending on their background, age or community. People who are high risk, considered essential employees or who have prior mental health conditions tend to respond to crisis stress more strongly.
Tips for coping with stress and anxiety
Take a break from watching, reading or listening to news stories about COVID-19. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.
Take care of your mental and physical health with meditation, healthy meals and exercise.
Take time to engage in activities you enjoy.
Talk to people you trust about your concerns and fears. Share the facts about COVID-19 to understand the risks. This can make an outbreak less stressful.
Call your healthcare provider if your stress and anxiety gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
For parents and childcare providers
Children tend to react on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and childcare providers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.
Be sure to watch for changes in behavior in a child. Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some things to look out for may include excessive crying, returning behaviors they have previously outgrown, “acting out”, difficulty with attention and concentration or avoiding activities they previously enjoyed.
Here are some ideas to help support children:
Take time to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Answer questions and share facts about the outbreak in a way the child can understand.
Reassure the child that they are safe and that it is okay to feel upset or scared.
Limit exposure to news coverage, including social media as children could misinterpret what they hear.
Keep up with a regular routine. If school is closed, set schedules for learning, relaxing and fun activities.
Be a role model for your children. Eat well, exercise, take breaks and stay connected with friends and family.
During these times, you need to take care of your mental health. Make your mental health a priority and don’t let anxiety and stress consume you. Be sure to reach out to a trained professional if your or your child’s stress and anxiety consumes you. Remember that you are not alone and this will pass.
With social distancing being the new normal during the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is starting to feel the strain of not being with their loved ones and family at this time. Whether you have adult children who are social distancing with their own families, or friends and co-workers you use to see every day, we are all trying to find ways to stay connected. This is the time to come up with some creative ways to keep in contact and have fun with it! Whether it is group texts or video conferences, here are some ideas to make it fun.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Start a group text and designate a ‘host’. The host will put together a list of items for everyone to find around the house and decide how much time you have to find the items. You can modify the list to fit the age group. For the younger group, you can list easy items (a plate, an animal, etc.).
For the older crowd, you can use ideas like a selfie with a paper hat. You can also do a magazine/newspaper scavenger hunt. Make a list of items (man with a beard, red lipstick) and have everyone take a picture of the item in the magazine/newspaper. Once you have your pictures, use a collage app on your phone to put the pictures together and send them to the group chat. The first person to find the most items wins!
Family Dinner – Video Conference Style
Pick a day for your family to eat together, during a video conference! Decide on a day and a meal and start the video conference! You can cook together and then eat together. It’s a way to get the family to spend some special time together, without being together.
Family Game Night
Using video conferencing or a video chat, you can have a family game night with card or dice games. For example, using games like Yahtzee or Farkle, you can set up a video conference and play the games together. Use games that do not require everyone to be in the same space. A game of Monopoly would not work well in this situation. You can even karaoke together!
Take a walk together
Even if it is just a walk around the corner, you can video chat with your family, while getting some fresh air. You can use this opportunity to play another quick scavenger hunt game.
We do not know how long we will have to social distance, but we can only try to make the best of it and have some fun. Please remember if you are going out, protect yourself and others and keep your distance!
During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future. This series of blogs covers ways to help our audience navigate this confusing time. Below you’ll find tips for any childcare facility who might be having a hard time paying rent during this time.
When you experience a hardship that affects your ability to pay rent on time, proactively contacting your landlord to find a solution is usually your best choice. If you are a conscientious and honest tenant who is temporarily short on funds, most landlords won’t evict you for paying rent a little late as it is expensive to pursue an eviction, and in the current economic environment, landlords may worry about their ability to find another lessor. Therefore, both you and your landlord have an incentive to find a feasible way to keep you in your current space. To avoid problems, follow this advice:
Try to negotiate reduced or delayed payment
Be upfront with your landlord about your situation. It is difficult and expensive for a landlord to evict you and if they consider you a good tenant, they won’t want to lose you. Some basic steps to take when asking for reduced or delayed payment:
Update your budget so that you know when, or under what circumstances, you’ll be able to restart paying rent.
Send a letter or email as soon as possible asking for the time you believe you will need.
Explain your situation and difficulties. Let them know it is a temporary issue.
Provide proof of hardship if possible.
If you have the means, offer to pay a portion of the rent on time. Often, landlords have expenses that have to be paid like property taxes or mortgages, so try to help the landlord cover those expenses, while reducing your total expenditure at the same time.
Give the landlord a date you can pay the full rent, if you have one, and make sure you keep your promise to pay.
If your landlord has a late fee policy, be prepared to pay. You can ask to forgo the late fee if you feel they will be responsive.
Do not send a check you know will bounce
No one likes getting a bounced check. Upsetting your landlord is not the only consequence of a bad check. A bank may charge the landlord a fee for a returned check which they will in turn charge you, most likely adding a few dollars for their troubles. You may also be charged a fee for a returned check. Sending a bad check is like not paying rent at all.
The problem won’t go away, so don’t ignore it
Like so many other things, honesty is the best policy. If you think your landlord won’t notice you didn’t pay, you would be wrong. Your landlord depends on your rent to cover their own expenses. A landlord will be more forgiving and willing to negotiate if you are upfront and honest with them.
Keep in mind that your landlord is under no obligation to work with you on delinquent rent, unless state guidelines in your area have changed during this time. In states that have temporarily halted evictions, there are stipulations that rent still must be paid in full at the end of a certain period, so make sure you read up and know what to expect. If you don’t pay rent on time and in full, your landlord has the right to start legal action to evict you and collect the money.