In April, children and families in Benton City had a good day when Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) staff at Educational Service District (ESD) 123 collected and delivered donations of essential items such as food, paper products, diapers, hygiene items and Walmart gift cards to families at the Carrusel Childcare Center. These donations, worth more than $600, were all contributed by members of their community.
While many child care centers have suspended on-site programming in response to COVID-19 and Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the Carrusel Childcare Center in Benton City is one provider that is carrying on the critical work of serving ECEAP families and children of essential workers on-site in addition to supporting families through modified services. This includes caring for 10 children whose parents are working in health care at Kadlec Clinics, Kadlec Hospital, Benton City Clinic and elder home care providers.
In response to concerns from teachers at the center who have been understandably nervous about exposure to COVID-19, ECEAP coaching staff sewed facemasks for each employee. The masks are a tangible reminder of partnership, support and appreciation, which the dedicated teachers received with gratitude and tears.
During the week of spring break, family supports were unavailable, some districts were not serving food and food banks were difficult to get to for working families. When it became apparent that families were struggling and needed help, ECEAP staff rallied their neighbors in support to gather and donate essentials to meet the needs of Carrusel families.
Amid a state of emergency, ECEAP staff and their community are showing up for each other. Neighbors are modeling – through action – a powerful example of what it looks like to care for one another. This community has cultivated relationships that provide for the physical needs of children and families during this pandemic, as well as the essential hope and human connection that comes with belonging to a community that cares.
As one ECEAP administrator observed, “The bonds between our staff, families and communities just keep growing.”
To say that my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying your end of the boat is sinking.
- Hugh Downs