Wilder Child Development Center a Reassuring Space for Kids and Families During COVID-19
Any parent or child care provider can tell you that kids thrive on routine and stability. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed most people’s lives, the Wilder Child Development Center brings welcome routines and a reassuring environment for children – and their parents, too.
“Our staff has been so positive and so calm and so attentive to what kids need,” Assistant Director Angie Clair says. “When you walk into the building into that calming environment, you can kind of forget about what’s going on outside.”
Under ordinary circumstances, the Child Development Center serves up to 74 toddlers and preschoolers using a curriculum that focuses on kindergarten readiness through academic and social-emotional learning. Parents are deeply involved in life at the center, including family fun nights, parent education and a parent advisory group to provide feedback about decisions that affect the center.
Kids Find Reassurance from Normal Routines at Child Development Center
After social distancing began due to COVID-19, the governor encouraged child care providers to stay open to support parents who are essential workers. Most families told the center that they needed child care to continue working.
Staff take students’ temperatures and check their health when families arrive in the morning. Otherwise, kids are following a familiar schedule in a familiar environment. “You walk into the classroom and the kids are just as happy as can be,” Angie says. “Our kids know what to expect, and they feel safe and supported.”
Food and Other Resources Are Available for Families
Center staff are working to understand and meet the changing needs of families during the pandemic, including increasing access to a small food shelf the center maintains for families. “One of the essential services at this time is to have food to feed our families,” says Donyella Smith, a resource navigator for families at the center. “Part of the whole family model is not only to serve the educational needs of the child, but to support the family with resources.”
The food shelf has grown and offers diapers and wipes as well as nutritious foods. Staff noticed that families seemed hesitant to use the shelf, so they created a form that families can use to make requests and pick up a bag with their items later. In addition to the food shelf, the center has extra bags of food with breakfast, snacks and lunches for kids available for families to take.
“We really looked at what can we do to support the families,” Angie says. “We work from the whole family model which helps to not only keeps a stable learning environment for the children and ensuring that all members of the family have their needs met too."