The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for robust, anti-racist early childhood systems that support all young children and their families. At a time when families are juggling needs that have both always existed and also worsened due to the pandemic’s effects, this has never been more clear. During the pandemic, the communities participating in Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network for Communities (EC-LINC), a network of partners working to support families and improve results for young children in communities across the country, have demonstrated the value of bringing together local leaders, parents, and organizations. They were able to quickly adapt their priorities to respond to COVID-19.
This nimble response was a common thread across EC-LINC communities, highlighting the effectiveness of local early childhood systems in understanding the needs and strengths of families with young children. For some communities, Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone (DULCE) has played an integral role in COVID-19 response. DULCE, a universal, evidence-based pediatric care innovation that addresses the social determinants of health and supports early relational health for families with infants from birth to six months, is led by an early childhood-system building organization that is immersed in community support and evidence-based programs tailored to infants (up to the age of six months) and their families.
Through conference calls, surveys, and individual interviews, we were able to draw upon what we heard from these partners on the front-lines of COVID-19 response to uplift key themes. This series of briefs features learning at both the community and practice levels:
- Coming Together During COVID-19: Early Childhood Systems Supporting Families highlights how the infrastructure and partnerships EC-LINC communities have developed over years of building their early childhood systems, which has, in turn, allowed them to address the needs confronting families with young children.
- Equity in Action: DULCE Addresses the Health and Emotional Needs of Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrates the power of DULCE in addressing the critical concrete needs of families with newborns during the pandemic. The five original DULCE sites are EC-LINC communities.Find the executive summary here.
- Hope in the Time of Chaos: CHOC Children’s Strengthened Response to COVID-19 through DULCE provides a snapshot of how one pediatric practice in an EC-LINC community was able to keep their clinic open during the pandemic to care for families and address their needs.
We are excited to kick-off the series with the release of our first brief: Coming Together During COVID-19: Early Childhood Systems Supporting Families. The next two briefs, to be released on October 29th, will continue the conversation by exploring how EC-LINC communities leveraged DULCE. To close out the series, Joan Lombardi, leading expert on early childhood development and child and family policy, will join CSSP colleagues Azieb Ermias and Cailin O’Connor on a podcast. Together, they will reflect on the themes and probing questions raised throughout the series.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to have devastating effects, particularly for young children and families of color. However, in a time of uncertainty, unanticipated opportunities help guide us in re-imagining how systems can work to help all young children and their families thrive—during this pandemic and beyond. Join us over the coming weeks as we celebrate the resilience of the EC-LINC communities and their families, share key themes and insights, and explore where we can go from here.