Emergency Child Care Reflections

Please find several reflections below – from the perspective of operations and child care providers. Throughout the posts you will see photos of our Emergency Child Care Car Train on Friday, April 17. Thank you to everyone who participated and all of our emergency child care providers!!

Reflections on offering Emergency Child Care

By Jill Wickins

As we reflect on the past 4 weeks we are humbled by the communities in which we reside. Staff, parents, strangers, front line workers, Compass team and my co leads have spent hours supporting this state of emergency due to COVID 19. Everyone is where they need to be, supporting one another and giving so much of themselves. Thank you one and all. You are amazing humans. 

On the second week we were approached to provide an emergency child care program. This was exciting and unsettling at the same time. The ‘what if’s’ consumed our thinking. If we did this how would we keep our children and staff safe? The City is Peterborough’s Sandra Robinson took the lead and put together an Emergency Child Care plan that would support our community emergency workers, our staff, and the children we would care for. Working with Peterborough Public Health, we implemented COVID 19 safety measures and protocols including family grouping with a maximum of 6 children per room. This meant we could keep siblings together and reduce children’s and family exposure throughout the centre. We implemented strict screening measures and redesigned our program to allow for easy disinfecting of toys, equipment and spaces.

When we asked our educators/staff/providers who may be interested in supporting this adventure we had 25 staff and 3 child care providers respond to say they would be willing. These brave souls are now supporting our community’s emergency and essential workers. We are grateful for you all! There are no words that can express how thankful we are to have you on our Emergency Child Care team!

We also must thank PVNCDSB for allowing us access to the ECC program space, and for supporting our maintenance needs. Thank you to City staff for organizing and completing the registration process and to our Board of Directors for unending support throughout the whole pandemic. Thank you to our CELC programs for their donations of gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, food and cheering. Wow what a community; what a team!

Please hold those close to you tight and those away from you in spirt. Stay safe and be well. 

See the photos of last Friday’s Emergency Child Care support car train where we got an opportunity to thank all of the educators putting themselves on the frontlines.

~Jill Wickins, Operations Link

Into the hearts of the ECC (Emergency Child Care) Team

By: Natasha Wright-Leavitt RECE

       Being a part of an organization like Compass ELC feels as though I am embodied in a caring community where everyone has a role and are valued. The children are the heart of our community, our job is to provide safe and caring environments despite the situations we face during this time. With that in mind, we want to send out a magnificent “THANK YOU” to our Compass ELC family for providing the opportunity, working with the city and the health unit to allow a facility for the families. Melissa Boekee said “I’m extremely thankful for Compass and for the caring organization that they are. As a staff member, I have felt supported and valued during this unforeseen time of closure and I can see that the organization is doing all they can to take care of their employees during this time.” Melissa has stepped up to a co-site Leader where roles are shared, and people are valued equally. Compass ELC offered ECC to all the employees and there was no obligation; the opportunity touched our hearts. Melissa when heard/read of this opportunity was eager to help, she has extended family who work in the frontlines during this pandemic. She understands the huge risk the parents are making and how child care is needed. She stated “I thought that helping out at this emergency location is one small way that I can ease the burden of other health care workers by helping to provide quality care for their children.” Not only do we need educators for the classrooms we also require a Nutritional Specialist to provide healthy nutritious meals, which Pamela took on wonderfully. She comments about the experience, “When the call came out across our emails, I knew I had to step up and help. I have friends and family that are frontline workers that have been stressed out about where they can send their kids to be safe. Some have sent their children to family members or good friends to keep them safe. Others have been struggling to find care. So I knew I could help by coming forward and being in this together to provide a safe place with healthy meals for the children. If it takes one less stressful thing off the parents shoulders then I am so glad. This cause is so close to my heart.”  – Pamela Putnins

There have been at least 25 educators to volunteer and here are examples of the people who attended the first Covid-19 training and their reasons why:

“I decided to work for ECC because I believed there was a need in the community, and I wanted to help. These children deserve a safe place where they can be comfortable and happy while their parents work in the frontlines.”

– Morgen Oliver

“As an educator and recently becoming part of the Compass ELC family in February, I wanted to be a part of this strong community and when the opportunity arose to join the Emergency Child Care Program, I was thrilled to do so.”

– Sabrina Hemeryck

“I was inspired to pursue this opportunity because I wanted to help the frontline workers and their families. I have several friends and family who are frontline workers and I appreciate all the work they do and even more now as they continue to protect us.”

– Amanda Kraemer

“On Friday March 13th the news went out that we would be closing our doors in response to flatten the curve for the COVID-19 pandemic. I had no idea what the future would hold and did not expect it to turn into such a rewarding experience. When the call for action went out that an Emergency Child Care Centre would open to support front liners and first responders, I knew I needed to take initiative to support my community. Very little was known about what this work was going to look like, but what we did know, was that it was essential we support those parents who are protecting, healing, and putting themselves at risk every day for their community.”

– Breanna Tully

“When I heard the call for educators to participate in this Emergency Child Care Program, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to support the front-line workers, and to create a positive environment for their children. I felt if there was a way I could contribute to part of the COVID-19 solution, I would. I wanted to receive all the training in health and sanitation protocols to be fully prepared for my responsibilities in keeping the children, parents, myself and other educators safe.”

– Jessica Szabo

As the days go by and the uncertainty continues, there is no better time than now to slow down and reflect on the wonderful experience we have with the children. Sabrina shares, “We have small group sizes and it has led us to become more engaged in play with each of the children, which has resulted in an astonishing amount of imagination. Fostering new ideas, being creative with the materials on hand and enjoying each other’s company. Having fun has been our main goal, the children bring light into the chaos that I may feel in the outside world. When I am playing, laughing and creating with the children, I feel a sense of peace and calmness.” I agree with Sabrina that having the smaller groups allows us to really engage and share in the imagination. Breanna also made the same connection when she said, “With a smaller ratio we can participate in deeper observations, watching learning unfold before us, and further that learning in unique ways with our materials. I can only imagine where this journey is going to lead us and what new life skills we will learn along the way!” Small groups and family groupings are one of the many actions we took to ensure the safety of the children and educators.

We are at a location that is not our own, but we are invited guests and we are truly grateful that the city has provided a space for us to do the care we need.

When people gather for one vision growth happens throughout the community. During our time here at ECC we have noticed personal growth amongst our educators,

“As an educator I have begun to realize how vital it is to be present in the moment, utilize materials and be creative in all aspects of play. In addition to personal growth, I have noticed that all the other educators are extremely supportive towards staff members, parents and children. Being a part of the Emergency Child Care Program has been a blessing and I am thankful we are all in this together.”

– Sabrina

“This Emergency Child Care Centre has turned into such a rewarding learning experience that has taken me back to our basic values and principles. We have had time to slow down, truly sit down and engage with the children, and join them in their contagious creativity and optimistic perspective on life. With a smaller ratio we can participate in deeper observations, watching learning unfold before us, and further that learning in unique ways with our materials. I can only imagine where this journey is going to lead us and what new life skills we will learn along the way!”

– Breanna Tully

“Through this time, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow as an educator. I’ve met new educators, new families and children, and have begun to build new relationships. Contacting families, helping them to register, and welcoming them into our program is something that I love to do and that has been a joy for me working at the ECC. I’ve seen how the educator teams have formed and how people who have just met each other are already working so well together, building relationships, and going above and beyond expectations.  It hasn’t been without its challenges, but the genuine gratitude of the parents and families warms my heart and gives me the motivation to do my best in this time of uncertainty. Although I hope that things will return to “normal” soon, I am excited to continue building the relationships I have already begun to form at the Emergency Care Centre.” 

– Melissa Boekee

Compass team members bring their skills and knowledge to grow our community. Jessica shared, I consider myself a learning sponge, and I have enjoyed learning from the multiple perspectives and experiences of the other educators in my room. I believe we’ve managed to piece together a system that works well for everyone, by communicating regularly, ensuring everyone is on the same page, ultimately helping the room run smoothly. Working with toddlers, and preschoolers is a relatively new chapter of experience – normally I am stationed in a school age program- that has added to my ‘tool kit’ as an educator to adapt to any age group I work with, and provide care to the best of my ability. I believe this is a great opportunity to build meaningful connections and relationships with the children, parents and other educators, to truly have a sense that we’re all in this together. Adversity is an opportunity for learning and growth; if I can help provide an environment for the children that enhances the four foundations of how learning happens during this time of crisis, I will have strengthened my practices as an educator and bring what I have learnt back to my main program when things return to normal.” 

Our Home Child Care Providers, like Emma have joined our team in the ECC opportunity to provide for herself and others in the community. The important message we need to take form this is that we are all in this together, unite as a community to share our knowledge, utilize resources, care for the children and respect all of the parents efforts to make sure these children have a future. We need our nurses, doctors, and other essential workers to help heal the world. Resulting in the need to continue ECC to provide care, maintain safety through proper hand washing and having fun with the children. We take critical actions to keep everyone healthy, happy, and safe. We love and are passionate about our children; the future. 

Thanks to Fresh 100.5 FM for creating a playlist! You can listen to it here.

For more images from the car train in celebration of Emergency Child Care workers, please click here