MONTEREY COUNTY — Child Care and Well-Being Covid-19 Response and Recovery Coalition, which provided vaccine clinics in Greenfield and other critical services during the pandemic, has received special recognition for its support for the well-being of children and youth in the community.
Monterey County Children’s Council honored the Coalition in December with the Champions for Children Award in recognition for “innovation and leadership in implementing impactful policy and system change in Monterey County.”
The Coalition was created early on in the pandemic, when Early Care and Education (ECE) child care providers remained operational to serve families who worked in essential industries.
“ECE providers were faced with keeping up with constantly changing public health guidelines and the responsibility of keeping children and the workforce safe when infections were skyrocketing and vaccines were unavailable,” according to the Children’s Council.
As a response, leaders in the area — including Monterey County Office of Education, Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, United Way Monterey County, First 5 Monterey County and Bright Beginnings — pulled together to form the Child Care and Well-Being Covid-19 Response and Recovery Coalition to centralize resources and address the needs of the child care community.
Since its establishment, the Coalition has secured and distributed large amounts of PPE through numerous sources, as well as organized and staffed vaccine clinics, including a series of clinics in Greenfield in partnership with Centro Binacional, offering support in multiple indigenous languages and instituting ways to sign up that did not require IDs.
In addition, the Coalition offered reflective practice to child care and education providers and VIDA Community Health Workers to address burnout and trauma of service providers, and mobilized financial resources for ECE providers.
Coalition members also formed a team of champions for informal child care givers — family, friends and neighbors — and received a collaborative grant that included stipends and tech support.
While working tirelessly to support ECE heroes during the height of the pandemic, the Coalition laid a foundation for fundamentally changing how the early learning community supports each other, coordinates communication and shares resources, as well.
The Coalition has “successfully built a stronger network, which is better able to respond to the needs of the ECE community by staying safe, staying informed and responding to the needs of children and families as they re-engage in the workforce,” stated the Children’s Council, which encourages the development of a comprehensive and collaborative delivery system of services to children and youth in Monterey County.
“It is an honor for the Child Care and Well-Being Covid-19 Response and Recovery Coalition to receive the Champions for Children Award,” said Coalition member Sonja Koehler of Bright Beginnings. “While the team mobilized to bring tangible supports to early educators and caregivers, it was perhaps the less tangible that really got us through the toughest of times: a weekly opportunity to share concerns and joys and to collectively come up with solutions that worked best for them. These relationships are the foundation from which we are building an even stronger early learning system of accessible, quality care and education for everyone.”
Koehler added, “This recognition of our collective work inspires us to carry on as we continue keeping teachers, caregivers, families and children safe and healthy.”