by Ashanti J. Bryant, MSW, MEd
IFF Director of Early Childhood Services
We have leaned heavily on our childcare system to support the children of essential workers during the pandemic. Without childcare providers willing to put their lives on the line, we wouldn’t have had enough workers to support society’s most critical systems – health care, food access, sanitation – at a time when we all needed them most.
But even the most resilient childcare providers are part of a system that is simply fragile and underfunded – and more at-risk of collapse than ever before. A heart-breaking reality is that many childcare providers have closed their doors permanently and others are fighting to sustain operations/funding while continuing to care for children and safeguard staff. Even with relief efforts, stimulus packages, and vaccine distribution, early care and education providers are not “out of the woods” and will likely be a system in need of rebuilding for years to come.
There will be many steps on the road to fully rebound and rebuild, and IFF intends to walk that road with providers and families. Today, we offer a bright spot amidst these deep challenges: A tool to normalize safe practices for children, parents, and providers, created by IFF’s own Rick Raleigh, who works on our real estate consulting team in Detroit and who has an architectural and construction background.
Rick authored a picture book entitled “How My School Fights A Virus.” Written from a child’s perspective, this colorful book weaves CDC guidelines, the authentic experience of an active and actual childcare provider (LaShawn Bridges, from Blessed Beginnings Learning Center), and distinct Detroit cultural markers to help us and our children remain safe in learning spaces while providers and families continue to fight for their lives and livelihoods.