Giving Compass' Take:

• Caitlin Anzelone and Emily Marano present providers with five strategies to alleviate the stress of COVID-19's child care challenges for parents.

• How might these strategies benefit both providers and parents? What can we do to support parents struggling with child care during COVID-19?

• Look for resources that can help guide your giving to coronavirus response efforts.

Parents are facing a host of child care challenges as they deal with the coronavirus emergency. Many essential workers need child care so they can continue to earn a wage and provide much-needed services. Other parents have relied on child care providers that are now closed, and they are struggling to balance family and job duties while they work from home. Child care providers are also grappling with new challenges due to the pandemic. Shifting client needs are affecting some groups’ ability to remain open, and new safety precautions for children and staff are having an impact on daily operations.

Given these challenges, many providers are likely rethinking aspects of their programs. Expanded eligibility guidelines and flexible funding options from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and state-declared emergency programs can support wider access to care. For example, state child care agencies may identify new priority populations, such as the children of health care workers; broaden the definition of work to include people seeking employment; and adjust income requirements so that more parents are eligible for services. However, for changes like these to be helpful, parents and child care workers must be able to navigate them.

To simplify and improve access options, child care agencies can apply strategies developed by MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS). The research is distilled here into five strategies.

  1. Automate or remove steps where possible.
  2. Limit options to those most relevant tot he decision-maker
  3. Simplify communications by focusing on the action (what), motivation (why), steps (how), and deadline (when)
  4. Break down actions into small, concrete steps
  5. Send actionable reminders

Read the full article about COVID-19's child care challenges by Caitlin Anzelone and Emily Marano at MDRC.