As of today, over thirty states have partially reopened across the country. Restaurants, barber shops, doctor’s offices and retail stores are slowly reopening their doors to the general public, so they can get back to work and earn a living. However, these businesses will need to adjust their operations to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including daycare and childcare centers.
If you have small children and plan on going back to work, you may need to leave your child with a caregiver during the day. Child caregivers are moving to the front lines of the pandemic as they watch over other people’s children. From disease management to counseling, find out how childcare has changed in the wake of the pandemic.
What It’s Like to Care for Other People’s Children During a Pandemic
Many childcare and daycare centers never shut down during the pandemic. They see themselves as essential businesses as they watch over the children of essential workers, such as nurses, government officials, and grocery store workers. If these essential workers didn’t have a place to take their kids during the day, they might not be able to go to work at all. Child caregivers are stepping up to the plate to better serve their communities during this trying time, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Caring for other people’s children during a pandemic can be stressful. These professionals are trained to work with kids, but they may not have a lot of experience when it comes to navigating a global health crisis.
- Infection Prevention
Whether they are looking after children inside their homes or at an outside facility, caregivers need to take precautions to make sure these kids do not get sick during the day. Caregivers know that parents are already racked with stress about getting infected with the virus, so they need to do everything they can to put their cares at ease.
The CDC has created a list of guidelines for schools and childcare centers that remain open during the pandemic. Every facility will need to find its own way of complying with these guidelines. They include:
- Screening kids for symptoms before bringing them into the facility
- Limiting access to play areas
- Regularly disinfecting surfaces
- Limiting class and group sizes to keep children further apart
- Asking parents to stay in the car when dropping off their children
- Having kids change into a fresh pair of clothes when they arrive at the facility
- And reminding kids to keep their distance from each other
Facilities that were shut down during the pandemic may need to hire a third-party restoration service before they can safely reopen. Companies like ATI Restoration can help daycare centers get back on their feet by thoroughly disinfecting these interiors with EPA-approved cleaning agents. They use the latest disinfectant materials and tools, including ultraviolet radiation and fog machines, to remove all traces of the virus. These professionals can also help daycare personnel create a maintenance schedule for keeping the space as safe as possible.
As you might imagine, young children aren’t always the best at social distancing. Instead of having kids play games and interact with each other like normal, many caregivers are just trying to keep kids occupied, create a sense of normalcy, and help them pass the time.
- Grief, Depression, and Trauma
The coronavirus will likely lead to an increase in the number of children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many children may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or trauma as they go back to daycare. Caregivers must be sensitive to these emotions, while still enforcing the rules.
History tells us that younger children, those from low-income families, and children of color tend to suffer the most when it comes to societal trauma. Young children who survive disasters often suffer from PTSD for years to come, as was the case with the children who survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans back in 2005.
Children can be just as susceptible to depression and anxiety as adults. According to a 2017 study by Fothergill, kids experience the general atmosphere of anxiety and panic as acutely as adults do, only they might be better at hiding it.
Tips for Taking Your Child to Daycare
- Try to limit your time in the facility as much as possible.
- Talk to the caregiver about your needs and concerns as a parent, while respecting their needs as well. Many childcare centers are struggling financially, so be considerate of their resources.
- Share information about your child with the caregiver, including how they are responding to the pandemic as well as their overall mood. This may help the person take better care of your child during the day.
- Have your child take a shower and put on a fresh pair of clothes as soon as they get home.
- If you need help finding childcare in your area, visit the Childcare.gov website. Contact the facility ahead of time to make sure they are still open and accepting additional children.
- If you can’t find a facility in your area, consider reaching out to a friend or loved one who may be able to watch your child during the day. Make sure this person feels comfortable watching over your child and that they have the supplies and resources to keep them safe.
If your child is having a hard time adjusting to this new reality, look for effective ways to talk to them about COVID-19. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has created a list of tips for talking to kids about the virus. It’s important to be realistic without needlessly exacerbating their fears.
You can’t do your job as an essential worker if you’re constantly worried about the health and safety of your children. Keep these trends in mind as you take your child to daycare and show your support for the caregivers in your community.