Prioritizing Early Childhood Educators for the COVID Vaccine

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts gain momentum, ECFC and our early childhood partners are concerned with the prioritization of and access to the vaccine for early childhood educators/child care providers.   Among the early challenges we know EC/child care providers are facing:

  • Lack of specific guidance vaccination plans for the ECE/child care sector, with each state responsible for determining its plan. 
  • Lack of clarify/unclear definitions of “child care providers” to include all delivery settings (such as Child Care Resource & Referral agencies; licensed and unlicensed exempt care; family, friend and neighbor care).  
  • Daunting logistics involved in finding and getting the vaccine: determining eligibility, hours on the phone or online to register for a vaccine, distance and transportation to vaccination sites.  For home and family based child care providers the time and access challenges are especially challenging, as they may be the sole provider at their site.
  • The time needed to navigate the vaccine process, or feeling ill after receiving the vaccine, could mean lost wages if  providers can’t find a substitute or can’t work or have to close their program on some days (this could also mean lost wages for the families they serve in absence of child care).

Roles for Philanthropy

ECFC hosted a discussion on February 4th with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Child Care Aware of America, and National Association of Family Child Care to discuss national efforts to prioritize early childhood educators and child care workers for the COVID vaccine, and opportunities for philanthropy to support these efforts in their communities.  Watch the February 4th Recording.
Key roles for philanthropy discussed on our February 4th call (and emerging as the vaccine rols out) include:
Connecting, convening and supporting trusted partners and navigators to help navigate community needs, deliver messaging, and assist child care providers through the vaccine process. Read highlights from our February 4th discussion regarding these roles for philanthropy.
Supporting local education efforts, such as:
  • Disseminating information about locations and eligibility to employers and educators
  • Highlighting professional testimonies – particularly from BIPOC doctors – to reduce vaccine hesitancy
  • Sharing positive vaccine messages and stories via personal narratives and videos as well as targeted outreach campaigns, town halls, etc.
Supporting advocacy and organizing to mobilize when and where needed, for example:  
  • Funding grassroots organizations to advocate for the prioritize ECE workforce with K-12 educators and other essential workers.  
  • Fostering private-public partnerships to leverage policymakers and improve the effectiveness and equity of rollouts.
  • Supporting efforts to organize volunteers and spokespeople to reduce vaccine hesitancy, especially among Black communities.
Supporting logistics and administrative costs in vaccine distribution for EC educators/child care providers.

Learn more (updated March 25, 2021)

On March 2, President Biden directed states to prioritize child care and K-12 staff for vaccination. He is challenging states to provide at least the first vaccine dose to both sectors by the end of March. Pharmacy locations that are part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are now giving priority to child care workers throughout March.
Child Care Aware of America is tracking real time state vaccinations plans and if/how child care workers are being included.  They have developed a two page fact sheet overview with basics about the vaccine, and have a video story hub for child care proviers to share their COVID-19 Impact Stories. 
Vaccine Basics – On March 18th at 9pm ET, Child Care Aware of America, NAEYC, and 12 other national organizations hosted a webinar to discuss how vaccines were developed and tested, and answer common questions about the vaccines, including how to access them and what you can expect when you get a vaccine. Speakers included CDC, child care providers sharing their experiences with the COVID vaccines, and a pediatrician who will share more about how the vaccines work. Watch the recording and access related resources.
CDC released a COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for School Settings and Child Care Programs that provides information, materials and ideas to get the word out about the vaccine availability to child care staff. The toolkit includes printable/and some customizable promotional materials (posters, fact sheets, stickers). 

Examples of Philanthropy Supported Vaccine Efforts

  • Home Grown (funders collaborative on home-based child care) and the National Association for Family Child Care have developed a social media toolkit for messaging cohesive messaging for provider advocates and their networks to reach out to state policymakers about home-based child care provider access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Conversation: Between Us, About Us is a campaign to provide Black communities with credible information about the COVID-19 vaccines co-developed by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Black Coalition Against COVID. Black doctors, nurses and researchers dispel misinformation and provide accessible facts through FAQ videos that deliver the information Black people are asking for about the COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Independence Blue Cross Foundation provided a grant to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Foundation to support a vaccination program of education and child care personnel.  Grant funds will be used for a portion of vaccine program related operating expenses and administrative costs.
  • The Boston Foundation launched a Vaccine Resource Map with links for locations, including eligibility information, and informational campaigns and materials in Massachusetts.
  • The Kresge Foundation supports the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) to the support and development of quality, accessible, and culturally competent health services for American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/Ans) living in cities.  To support vaccine confidence among AI/AN, the Council launched the #BeAGoodRelative campaign to increase vaccine participation among urban AI/AN. The campaign utilizes a toolkit full of fun swag for urban AI/AN that includes masks, stickers, and fliers for UIOs to distribute as community members receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  To find out more and download the toolkit, follow NCUIH on TwitterFacebook or YouTube.
  • How Philanthropy Can Support Equitable Vaccine Distributions, Social Innovation Review, Feb 17 2021, discusses four ways philanthropy can effectively partner with governments to support equitable vaccination distribution and ensure that more individuals are vaccinated against COVID-19, and provides specific examples of these types of partnership in California. 

Philanthropy Spotlight:

Nancy Jost, Director of Early Childhood for the West Central Initiative Fund in Fergus Falls, MN, gets updates from the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet COVID-19 calls for advocates on where vaccinations will be available and she makes calls and sends emails to child care providers in her region encouraging them and telling them where they could get vaccinated. She has also encouraged child care center directors to take pictures of themselves with “I Got the Vaccine Because” posters to share with their staff and on social media.  

 Do you have examples of how philanthropy is supporting vaccine messaging, advocacy and distribution in your state or community? 

Share your examples with ECFC.