New Bern, NC – Although their office is temporarily closed to the public and their staff telework because of coronavirus restrictions, Craven Smart Start, Inc is launching a public awareness campaign over the next two weeks. The objectives of the campaign are to educate the public about the critical role played by the early childhood workforce in childcare programs in Craven County and to encourage the community to help provide the early childhood workforce the supplies and resources, they are unable to secure, to provide safe, quality child care.
“Like other essential workers, childcare teachers are readily on the front lines of this crisis, risking their own health and safety, putting their own families at risk to care for the children of other essential employees such as health care workers, first responders, grocery workers, delivery drivers, etc.” according to Pat Morrow, Craven Smart Start Executive Director.
Even before the pandemic, early childhood teachers were recognized for the critical role they play in providing young children a foundation for early learning. During Governor Cooper’s press conference on April 7th, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, described the role of early childhood teachers. “In the best of times, they (early childhood teachers) are our unsung heroes, who care for, love and teach our children. They are literally brain builders, supporting children’s healthy development so they have a strong foundation for health and learning, and that’s in the best of times. So as we face this pandemic, we know our early childhood workforce is a support system that allows our essential services to be there for all of us”.
Like our medical workers and others serving on the front line”, Morrow adds “there is a critical need for masks, sanitizer, cleaners, paper products, baby wipes, etc. essential to provide care for children. Many of these essential early childhood teachers, center-based and home-based, lack medical insurance, are paid low wages and are now unable to obtain the resources needed to meet the health and safety requirements to eradicate the pandemic. Craven Smart Start’s Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) staff regularly contact all 44 childcare facilities that are currently operating in Craven County. CCR&R staff report that many of the facilities continue to report having a difficult time just finding basic supplies. Currently, childcare facilities are in need of disposable gloves; masks; forehead thermometers; hand sanitizer; Clorox bleach and wipes; Lysol spray; paper towels; toilet paper; paper goods-including plates, bowls, and napkins; and liquid soap.
Ms. Morrow says “the childcare community must have the vital resources necessary to be successful in protecting our most precious asset…..the children. We implore the community to step up and help with these items, where they can.”
Craven Smart Start is asking the community (businesses, community organizations, civic clubs, churches and faith-based groups and individual) to help the early childhood workforce in childcare programs in Craven County by collecting needed items or by making monetary donations for these supplies to Craven Smart Start for distribution to childcare programs that need them. For information, contact Pat Morrow at 252-626-5412.
Craven Smart Start is a 501©3 public-private partnership that administers the funding and programs of Smart Start, North Carolina’s early childhood initiative, in Craven County. For more information about Craven Smart Start, visit cravensmartstart.org
Submitted by: Pinkie Moore, Community Outreach Coordinator, Craven Smart Start, Inc.