Covid-19 has opened lots of people’s eyes to those we tend to take for granted. We are referring to first responders, healthcare workers, and the essential workers manning our supermarkets, food processing plants and a whole range of other services. Further, the closing of schools has made parents acutely aware of the important role that teachers play as parents have had to pick up the reins of educating their children while schools were closed. Last but not least, the critical role early childhood education teachers play became obvious. In addition to helping young children develop the cognitive, social and emotional skills they need during their formative years before kindergarten, these educators also provide the childcare that families need so parents can work. The return on investment in these programs has been shown to be well north of 7:1 in normal times. In this emergency, it is difficult to even estimate this return as it has helped to save lives and kept the County fed.
As the effects of Covid-19 became clear, so did the community’s need for our teachers and staff. In the face of this need, we at Childs’ Path chose to remain open throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic (except for two weeks to flatten the curve). We felt it was our duty to enable first responders, healthcare workers, and other essential workers in Collier County to do their jobs without worrying about who was there to care of their children. There were many obvious risks our teachers had to face, but the safety and wellbeing of the children, their families, and our staff was always our main priority. We followed all of the CDC guidelines and asked for the advice of the County Health Department to keep everyone safe. Our diligence and our families’ compliance with our health and safety precautions allowed us to continue to serve the community. We will continue on that path together with our children and their families.
We were supported in our work through funding from the Early Learning Coalition, the NCEF, and the Community Foundation. We will likely still come up short, but we knew we needed to provide our own essential service to keep Collier County healthy, fed, and functioning.
As board members, we want to thank our teachers and staff, and our supporters, for going above and beyond in this time of need.
From the Board of Directors,
Felix Mehler, Chairman of the Board and Seymour Burchman