Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order on March 23, 2020, designated Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) sites as essential services during COVID-19. ECEAP contractors continued to serve children and families furthest from opportunity statewide by providing extended whole child learning opportunities and critical comprehensive services. As a result, families and children stayed enrolled while sheltering in place and quarantining at home.
While a small percentage of ECEAP sites offered ongoing in-person classroom services, following the Washington State Department of Health guidance, all sites were required to provide modified or Non-Traditional Services (NTS).
Individual contractors, responding to the needs of their community, determined the manner of and type of services locally with guidance from DCYF ECEAP. This resulted in ECEAP contractor staff embarking on innovative, high-quality and responsive rigorous learning and supports while also staying safe at home when needed.
The partnerships being built, the community support and the value that the teaching staff and family support staff are providing to parents has been exciting to witness…If ever there was evidence that the work we do has value, it is now.
ECEAP contractors built upon the strengths-based approaches embedded in their work and the foundational tenet that families are their children’s first and most important teachers. ECEAP providers developed tools, strategies and activities that were accessible to families and extended the learning that children experienced in the classroom prior to the pandemic. Families shared that these continued options of services met some of their greatest needs and felt like a lifeline during unprecedented and uncertain times.
Contractor staff provided these supports utilizing a variety of technological tools and platforms. The variety of tools allowed teachers to provide both synchronous and asynchronous learning to meet the needs of each family, share documentation securely and afforded opportunities for families to extend and expand learning when it worked for them. Low-tech strategies also had a powerful effect through weekly connection calls and distribution of education packets with hands-on activities that engage children and adults together. For physical supplies, food and other resources, staff arranged pick-up points, front porch drop-off and even traditional mail services.
Each one of the teachers' contributions has brightened our days and put a smile on my daughter's face. It is very difficult to create a rhythm and to help especially our preschool age daughter understand what's happened to our world. We have taken these videos and incorporated them into our routine. It has helped with the transition. I am so grateful for all your efforts! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
-Skagit Valley Community College ECEAP parent
A small sampling of these individualized activities, resources and supports are linked below to help illustrate the outstanding resources developed and provided to families.
- Activities and supports for understanding social distancing and equity
- Health education with activities to support physical development
- Fun and engaging activities for children and families to learn at home together
- STEM activities including science labs and experiments
- Food production and food delivery or pick up for families with food insecurity (see photo below)
- Guided lesson plans and educational packets for families to use at home
- Teachers engaging virtually with children through games and other activities
- Family support staff providing remote supports and connecting them with community resources
- Regular communication to maintain relationships and connection, such as newsletters
- Serve and return engagement with families who watched teacher videos or completed home learning packets and then documented their children engaging in this learning at home
Thank you so much for getting the learning bundles together to pass out to children. I am blown away by the amount of support and everything you are doing during this time. Even though my son is not in grade school yet, these are milestones in his life and I am very happy of where he's at. Again, thank you so much beacuse this is just phenomenal.
-Spokane Child Development Center parent
ECEAP providers, with deep connections in their communities, responded to a variety of needs and supported families and communities with compassion and expertise. Evidence of the range of supportive services has been diverse, extraordinary and continues to grow daily. ECEAP’s commitment to continuing education and to the well-being of children, families and their communities during this crisis continues to have profound and lasting effects. For more examples of ECEAP contractor efforts, please visit the DCYF ECEAP webpage and click on the links in the ECEAP During COVID-19 section.