The RECE Steering Committee expresses solidarity with our international community who serve children, families and educators. The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in the lives of children, their families and the professional care/education staff who work with them. The pandemic has heightened awareness of the central role of child care /early childhood services in the social fabric of society.RECE international colleagues represent unique early childhood care and education traditions and structures and reflect the variety of supports appropriate to children and families around the world. It is important to acknowledge not only the critical nature and importance of early childhood but also the precarious and inequitable circumstances of those working in this sector across the world.
During this unprecedented crisis, child care/early education workers are vulnerable because of their working conditions, both financially and structurally, in most counties. We at RECE wish to add our voices to those calls in individual countries to support early childhood workers whether their services remain open or are closed by the state. When remaining open, staff must have access to information and equipment to keep them safe as they care for children of essential personnel including medical staff and first responders.
Even when services are required to temporarily close, they need increased support and individual workers need to continue receiving their salaries and basic benefit packages so that they remain in the sector and are ready to take up their jobs as soon as is practicable.
Now is the time to maintain stability and ensure that early childhood (infant through school-age) services which have had to close will be able to re-open once the pandemic is under control. Children need consistency and quality care and education. Families will need to return to work confident that their children are well cared for, and early childhood educators will need to find their jobs awaiting them. We cannot afford to lose our qualified early childhood staff. Now is the time to show early childhood education and care personnel that they are an integral and respected workforce.
The future of early childhood services is in the present and what actions are taken. It is incumbent that we all — early childhood educators, scholars, families — speak out for local and national policies that assure children’s rights to quality and continuity in care and education and staff rights to job security and well being are protected.