Supporting Working Families: Why Collaborating with Childcare When Planning to Reopen Matters

Karma Hugo, Director of Early Learning, OSPI
Feb 17, 2021
diverse group of kids in a daycare setting

Many working families with school-age children experienced an increased need for childcare during remote learning. This is especially true for essential workers. Our state depends on childcare and youth development programs so that its workforce can meet the needs of Washingtonians during these challenging times and help keep our economy afloat.

The difficult decisions districts had to make about return-to-school schedules have a direct effect on local childcare and youth development programs. During COVID 19, childcare and youth development programs across the state adapted to accommodate children who would typically be in school in person. They changed schedules, purchased special equipment for remote learning, and took on new health and safety practices to support students and families amid a pandemic.

As schools bring students back in person, childcare and youth development programs will continue to be an important part of the support system families rely on so they can work. The more they know about and are involved in decisions schools are making regarding their schedules, the better they can make the necessary changes to their programming and business models so they can keep providing essential services to children and families. This is especially important when school districts develop schedules that are different than returning to their typical school day schedule.

Schools can take steps to support students and families by engaging with local childcare and youth development programs, especially for those who might be furthest from opportunity. The pandemic is not over, and the need for flexibility will continue. Below are some easy ways to help families and communities manage school changes as successfully as possible:

  • Identify someone in the district as a point person between childcare and youth development programs.
  • Involve childcare and youth development program leadership in schedule planning, including remote learning times and summer learning and engagement.
  • Communicate changes in the school’s schedule/practices directly to childcare and youth development program to allow time to make adjustments to support families as needed.
  • Include childcare and youth development programs in family-facing communications where appropriate. For instance, if the district sends regular updates to families via email, send to providers as well. If you need a list of childcare providers please send a request to
  • Direct families needing childcare to the Childcare Aware of Washington Family Center website or to call 1–800–446–1114.
  • Direct families needing assistance with paying for childcare to Working Connections childcare website.
  • Be open to creative ways to continuing or begin sharing dedicated space during changes in schedules and over the summer, including the use of classrooms, the gym, multipurpose room, cafeteria/kitchen, outdoor/grounds, entry ways, and school-based health center/nurses offices.
  • Within established district agreements and protocols, consider creative ways that district staff (interpreters, information technology, paraeducators, case managers, counselors, social workers, nurses) might assist students who need specialized or specific services while in childcare and youth development program during remote learning.
  • Provide access to technology supports to facilitate student learning in care, such as Wi-Fi, hot spots, and district devices for students, with training and technical assistance to childcare and youth development programs who use district virtual learning management system(s).

Additional opportunities and considerations can be found under “childcare” on the OSPI COVID–19 Guidance and Resources page.

For more information about:

For questions about childcare and youth development partnerships, contact Karma Hugo, Director of Early Learning, OSPI.

  • Childcare
  • Daycare
  • COVID-19
  • DCYF
  • Resource

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  1. Maryland Shearer | Feb 24, 2021
    This a very positive approach to our continuing support and collaboration between chilcare , parents, and k-12.
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