EQuIPD is the acronym for Education, Quality Improvement and Professional Development. Our mission is to nurture and empower early care and education professionals and programs with tools to support and sustain success. During this pandemic, we became more creative with our “tools” including use of technology like zoom meetings, google video chat, face time, and pictures. Not only did we focus on our modifying our typical support services, but we also pivoted our approach to assisting programs. We partnered with other organizations and sought donations from local businesses to help provide donated items difficult to source during the pandemic to smaller-sized programs who could not purchase items from bulk wholesalers.
When guidelines reduced and eliminated group gatherings, we had to cancel 11 professional development sessions but we knew that the early childhood community needed to stay connected and we wanted to use some of the time when programs were closed as an opportunity for some additional learning for teachers. We were able to create and offer a number of professional development sessions online during early summer and will continue into fall. The topics include using photographs to tell teachers’ stories, ways to enhance art in the classrooms. and creative activities for children. For each of the sessions we help teachers keep COVID 19 safety guidelines in mind. It is our hope to offer our typically scheduled annual fall Community Learning Event this year as a virtual conference that will span over several days, giving administrators, family child care home providers, and teachers options for participating when it is convenient for them.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we have offered administrators of child care programs the opportunity to participate in a weekly webinar to share ideas, gain information and support each other during this challenging time. Administrators have expressed appreciation for this support and the attendance at the webinars continues to grow – and we have also used this time together to invite policy makers to attend and hear the challenges early childhood settings face as they remain open as an essential service for families to stay employed. Administrators in the group were able to share the critical need for more financial support as they navigate staffing through quarantines, maintaining health and safety precautions, and families who can no longer pay tuition or choose to remove their children from group care. We connected center administrators and family child care home providers to additional resources (e.g., grants) to help sustain their programs during this time of closure, reduced enrollment or increased costs. Teachers have received support through our ASCEND peer mentoring cohort which focuses on connecting teachers to other teachers and creating goals to enhance their teaching. The focus for this upcoming fiscal year will be on overall well-being to reduce stress and promote self growth. We remain in constant contact with programs that we serve to provide any support needed or sometimes just to be a listening ear when they are trying to balance making tough decisions. We have all learned, with the early childhood community, the importance of connection during this time of uncertainty and change.
To contact EQuIPD visit their website: http://www.equipd.info/