Throughout June, thread, Alaska’s Child Care Resource & Referral Network, awarded $412,000 to more than 300 early childhood and school age programs statewide as part of its COVID-19 Quality Initiative.
To address the growing needs of early childhood education programs during the coronavirus pandemic, thread partnered with the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), the Rasmuson Foundation, and the
Mat-Su Health Foundation to provide COVID-19 Quality Initiative support to licensed programs.
The COVID-19 Quality Initiative was also supported by the Municipality of Anchorage, Wells Fargo, ConocoPhillips Alaska, and the Alaska Community Foundation.
thread recognizes the essential role Alaska’s early childhood education programs have in keeping children healthy while meeting the needs of families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Child care programs and early educators have been on the front lines of this pandemic, offering little interruption to care for working Alaskans and their young children,” said thread CEO Stephanie Berglund. “They have been critical to our communities in this time of need and need this support to help weather the storm. We are grateful for the child care programs offering safe, healthy and loving care to so many Alaskans.”
Alaska’s child care sector began facing serious challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Many programs remained open but experienced business
interruptions. Fluctuating enrollments and necessary-but costly-State and local health and safety mandates created financial stress for these small
businesses. Hard to find cleaning supplies, physical distancing, and new teacher-child ratios put extra demands on early educators and programs.
“We received a grant from the quality initiative program and decided to use the funds to create individual art boxes because it was a struggle to sanitize art supplies after each child used them,” said Melissa Howlett, administrator at KidZone Early Learn Academy, LLC.” We also bought a commercial fogger/mister
to spray the surfaces in our classrooms at the end of each day. Our aim is to keep our kids safe.”
At the onset of COVID-19, thread developed an online COVID-19 Resource Center, providing timely resources and updates for Alaska’s early childhood educators and families.
thread also advocated on behalf of the child care sector for local and federal CARES support, provided free trainings to early educators, and assisted families with child care referrals and information.