This week and for the next few weeks, my blog is going to focus on CCRR’s incredible staff. Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, we have been open, supporting children, their families, and child care providers access safe child care. The work we have undertaken has looked a little different, but at its essence, we live by our mission to support and enhance the healthy development of all children.
Kristin G. Saunders, RN, BSN
Many of you know we have a Registered Nurse on staff here at CCRR. Kristin is a Child Health Care Consultant, a MAT Trainer, and an American Red Cross FA/CPR/AED Trainer. She is passionate about the health and well-being of our children. Last year, she was instrumental in providing guidance around the measles epidemic. This year, COVID-19 has pushed her far beyond anything we could have imagined. On top of her “normal” duties, every single day, Kristin fields calls from providers, walking them through health and safety guidelines from the CDC, NYS Department of Health, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, and the NYS Education Department – not an easy task. She is a resource for Health Care Consultants throughout the state and has been instrumental in helping state and local officials understand how COVID-19 and the resulting guidance has impacted providers.
Christina Espindola, Resource and Referral Coordinator
If you have contacted CCRR looking for child care options, you have likely had a conversation with Christina. On a “normal” day, Christina could field a dozen calls from families. During the pandemic, particularly at the outset when providers were closing, Christina fielded scores more, every time reassuring families and talking through their anxiety. As a parent who herself used CCRR’s child care referral services, Christina knows first-hand how nerve-wracking the child care search can be. When CCRR was asked by OCFS to manage and coordinate the CARES Act Tuition Scholarship Program, Christina spent the next twelve weeks reviewing parent applications, provider applications, matching families to programs, and ensuring that attendance records were meticulously maintained so providers would be paid for the care they offered. That process was incredibly frustrating for many reasons, yet Christina persevered. (I’ll share more about the other members of the CARES Team in future blogs.)
Jenine Valentino, PreK Coordinator
CCRR coordinates UPK and Statewide Full-Day PreK for seven of Rockland’s eight school districts. Thirty-seven child care providers teach PreK to almost 850 students in 75 classrooms – all following NYS Education Department rules, same as K-12 classrooms. When schools shut down, so did PreK. Teachers had to scramble to find ways to stay in contact with families and children, immediately moving to virtual learning – a seemingly impossible task. With the help of our Professional Development staff, Jenine walked teachers through ways to maintain continuity of learning, often with the same challenges faced by families with school-age children – access to devices, Wifi, etc. As the school year ended, we re-focused on the PreK lottery and how to help providers determine re-opening plans. Jenine works closely with Kristin, and together they help guide PreK providers. Today, there are still questions about PreK re-opening, and we are working with NYSED and school districts to figure things out.