Not many people will look back and remember 2020 as being a "good" year. Right from its start, this year has thrown one curveball right after another, with no industry, business, or family spared. And the predominant impact has been tragic.
However, for all of this upheaval, chaos, and frustration, some bright spots must emerge. No one can come out of this ordeal without being changed, and now, everyone must decide how that change will affect them now and in the future. For the field of Early Childhood Education, there is a glimmer of hope that an economy teetering at the mercy of childcare closures is enough impetus to redirect our nation's focus and priorities.
Addressing the global impact of the pandemic on ECE.
Simon Ho, CEO and co-founder of 1Core Solution, says, "Childcare, as an industry, is the backbone of our economy. The pandemic has proven that the economy cannot function without reliable childcare." And statistics support these claims. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in June, 75-percent of families chose to keep their children home. Additionally, the number of parents with children at childcare centers dropped to 10-percent from 25-percent. Unfortunately, as time passes, the negative trend continues, and dropping enrollment means more childcare centers will be forced to close their doors.
Equally disturbing, information gathered by 1Core Solution says that 40-percent of childcare programs do not expect to survive without public assistance. Understandably, many parents don't feel comfortable sending their children back to preschools, and centers are struggling to keep enrollments and finances high. "Some centers remain operational, but limited capacity and increased costs brought about by new safety measures have been crippling," adds Swami Venkat, co-founder of 1Core Solution.
The folks at 1Core Solution are concerned about the global impact caused by a whole generation of children whose early childhood education has been either interrupted or, worse yet, ceased due to pandemic-induced childcare complications.
And the global impact has the potential to be devastating when calculating the value of the early childhood period from birth to age five. The following statistics from the article The Importance of Early Childhood Education highlight just how critical these years are to brain development.
Brain development is most rapid in the early stages of a child's life. When the quality of stimulation, support, and nurture is lacking or absent, there can be irreversible effects on overall development.
Children who did not participate in an Early Childhood Education program lag behind their peers who have attended an ECE program.
Children who are enrolled in an Early Childhood Education program achieve more success at school.
As adults, people who had an early childhood education have better career opportunities, improved health, and lower levels of dependence and crime rates than those who do not attend an ECE program.
Efforts to improve early child development are an investment, not a cost. Investing in ECE helps promote economic growth while also helping to target the development of character and cognitive skills necessary for future success.
A problem with funding.
It's this final bullet point that is so significant to the developers at 1Core Solution. Investing in the future should be a priority, especially with so much at stake. Ho, Venkat, and Yane Diaz, who serves as 1Core Solution Brand Ambassador and Peace of Mind Advocate, are committed to finding solutions to the early childhood education problem. And they say part of the problem is that childcare facilities and their services have never been prioritized through funding like K-12 schools. Yet, as we've witnessed the past several months, the entire economy is at risk when parents cannot go to work due to childcare closures.
The whole structure of the way childcare centers are funded puts a burden on parents - who pay tuition as funding. The concept of childcare being a business sets the responsibility on them to make ends meet. The ones that do receive some funding have the amount based on attendance. Amid a pandemic when children cannot be in attendance, this revenue is a moot point. Ho says, "Childcare has not been treated as essential, and now, we are paying the price. We must change the way business is done."
Working out solutions.
One solution is childcare centers need an additional way to keep children engaged and generate income that does not rely solely on the child being physically present at a facility. "Our solution is Learn@Home: an all-in-one virtual learning platform that allows childcare centers to manage their entire remote learning offerings in a simple way that children, families, staff, and providers will enjoy," states Diaz. "And virtual learning opportunities for childcare will pandemic-proof this industry going forward," adds Ho.
Learn@Home works for full-time, part-time, or hybrid, remote schedules and helps childcare facilities and preschools stay open to provide a virtual learning solution designed specifically for early childhood education. And it is easy to implement because Learn@Home can work in conjunction with any core curriculum management system facilities might already be using.
Ending on a high note.
The crew at 1Core Solution understands that the funding issues and the lack of priority status ECE receives are complicated, structural flaws in the system. While they cannot solve these issues with their software, they can raise awareness, so more people understand education's value in the birth-to-five-year timespan. And more importantly, they can raise awareness concerning all it may cost us as a society if we continue to refuse to deem childcare an essential part of our economy.
In addition to raising awareness, 1Core Solution is doing its part to ensure that childcare providers will be successful going virtual. Therefore, 1Core Solution launched the #IAmVirtual Accelerator Program. This unique program, in addition to the Learn@Home software solution, offers several business resources, training, and community support. Ho, Venkat, and Diaz are quick to add that virtual learning is not optimal, and nothing can completely replace face-to-face education. However, they see their virtual learning system as a way to get ECE facilities through instructional problems as they occur, starting now and continuing through other circumstances - such as providing instruction on "snow days" and helping families receive educational opportunities for homebound children.
True, 2020 will not be remembered as a good year for many, but it will be remembered as a year that dictated change and as a time when companies like 1Core Solution stepped up to provide what was needed.
More information about Learn@Home is on the www.1corelearnathome.com.