It’s 10:15 a.m., and I am making my weekly nurse consultant visit to an early care and education (ECE) center. It’s windy, but the sky is bright blue, and for December, it’s still mild weather in the Northeast. As I reach up to unhook the gated playground, I hear the laughter and voices of children, and then, once the gate is open, I see children running, riding bikes, and playing with each other under the watchful eyes of their teachers. I make some mental notes—children are getting fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. Teachers are facilitating interactions with children, and active supervision is in progress.
10:16 a.m. I turn to enter the main entrance where families drop off and pick up their children. In addition to the “Welcome to the ECE Center” posters, I see decorative, healthful reminders from the CDC, such as how to properly wear masks, staying home when sick, and frequent handwashing, to make spreading COVID-19 less likely.
10:17 a.m. I enter my code and open the secure door leading to classrooms and community spaces. All adults in the vicinity glance in my direction for just a second, wave an acknowledgement, and then, as if in synchrony, focus back on the children they’re working with and continue their group activities.
In my first two minutes at this center, I have experienced some of the intentional and important work that local ECE providers engage in daily to keep early childhood environments safe and healthy for children, families, and each other.
11:30 a.m. As usual, I’m in a great mood after being around babies and children! Traffic is unusually light, and as I drive, I reflect on the diligence of ECE providers and educators who continue to support their ECE communities during these challenging times.
ECE providers are our heroes—every day but especially now during the pandemic. Do you have a story about an ECE provider and the important role they play in keeping your child safe and learning? If so, please share it in a comment below.
Education Development Center (EDC) and Georgetown University are leading the National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (NCHBHS). Through NCHBHS, we provide evidence-based resources and deliver innovative training and technical assistance to help Head Start and other ECE programs promote the wellness of children, families, and staff. In addition, EDC is now an IACET Accredited Provider and, starting in 2022, the NCHBHS will offer continuing education unit (CEU) courses for ECE staff through its Individualized Professional Development Portfolio. Questions? Contact IACET@edc.org.
|Stephanie Knutson, an EDC senior training and technical assistance associate, is an accomplished educator and nurse leader in the fields of school nursing, health education, and early childhood education. She provides professional consultation regarding program operations and services to licensed ECE centers.|