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In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the global community is faced with uncertainty and challenging times in the coming weeks. Authorities around the world are taking the stance of reducing the spread of the disease by encouraging social distancing through temporarily shutting down businesses. This has hit the childcare community pretty hard. Here are some best practices to follow when communicating with families during this trying time.
Maintain Open Lines Of Communication
Communication is key to ensure that the parents you work with know what to expect. As much as you can, ensure that your communications plan aligns with your emergency policies. Should you decide to implement a new one, or change an existing plan, communicate this as early and as regularly as possible.
You can do this by sending updates through your childcare app, email, and text. Make sure that parents are in the know even if that requires a little more effort to get the message across. It is important that staff are clear and aligned on what is happening at the center so that families have access to consistent information.
Keep the message simple and direct to reduce stress and overwhelm on both sides.
Being present and available to answer questions, field comments, and soothe anxieties will help maintain a sense of community at your center. Remain transparent and compassionate in your response to every person in your community.
A good phrase to start with: “We will get through this together.”
If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in your facility, be transparent while remaining respectful of the individuals involved. Confirm that there is a positive case and contact your local health officials to advise on the next steps. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect ourselves and our community.
Constant and open communication keeps everyone on the same page, builds trust and encourages connection.
Keep Calm And Pass It Along
As authorities are issuing advisories to practice social distancing, more centers and businesses are making the tough decision to temporarily close or allow employees to work remotely.
If this is the case, parents will be relying on child care providers to provide guidance for working with their children at home while sustaining their work responsibilities. This is a big shift in routine and can be stressful for everyone involved.
Keeping calm and composed helps to reassure families that they are not alone and reduce the stress of the situation for the children, the families and staff. Although this is easier said than done, keeping a sense of calm with your community helps to encourage a resilient attitude. This is a much better alternative than panicking.
Check out this resource on Caring For Your Coronavirus Anxiety, which covers different self-care strategies for you and your community!
Keep Up To Date On Developments In Your Local Area
As information is moving very quickly on the development of COVID-19, things can get overwhelming and blown out of proportion really quickly if left unchecked. It is everyone’s responsibility to stay as informed as possible and not spread any misinformation. This will ensure that families have access to credible information and decisions can be made appropriately.
Keep track of updates from credible sources like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or The World Health Organization. A reliable way to go about this is to refer to your State Department of Health and global advisory sources.
We hope that this has been helpful in putting your communications plan together. We’d love to hear from you – let us know what you’re doing at your centers in the comments! Stay safe.