This is the final installment of my series of blogs recognizing the CCRR staff and their accomplishments throughout the COVID-19 health emergency - supporting children, families and child care providers. Thank you, Teresa, Jenny, and the Management Team: Tiffany, Karen, and Elaine.
Teresa Ortega, CACFP Coordinator
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children enrolled at participating child care programs. Teresa coordinates the enrollment of Family/Group Family providers and children, ensuring menus meet nutritional guidelines. During the pandemic, Teresa tracked when programs were open or closed and which children attended programs – details that could change daily. When providers had trouble finding certain produce or the price of milk increased, Teresa worked with regulators on behalf of those providers. When rules changed because of CDC or other guidance, Teresa helped providers understand and comply for maximum reimbursement, ensuring young children had access to nutritious food, a building block for successful learning in school and at home.
Jenny Spampinato, Infant/Toddler Specialist
Jenny has a strong relationship with the child care providers who accept children under age 3. As programs dealt with the effects of the health pandemic, Jenny lent an ear, helping allay their anxiety about how to meet the needs of their children and families while considering their own personal situations. Some programs closed, some remained open, but all were able to turn to Jenny, who has logged over 100 hours of time spent with providers since April. Jenny was also able to complete her national Program for Infant Toddler care (PITC) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) certifications!
Tiffany Davis, Director of Finance and Human Resource Services
Karen Ross, Director of Family, Community, and Operations Services
Elaine Trotta, Director of Program Standards and Support Services
On March 16, as we left for the day thinking the office would be closed for a couple of weeks, the Management Team set into place plans for making sure the agency’s work got done while we all worked remotely. We made plans to stop in to collect mail, or pick up phone messages, or maybe grab a document that hadn’t yet been transferred to digital access. Little did we know that we would spend the bulk of the next eleven weeks in crisis management mode. Sorting through regulations, mandates, and guidance that were sometimes contradictory to support CCRR staff anxious about the unknown and the uncertainty of what would happen next; guidance for child care providers and parents as schools closed and early childhood programs tried to decide how and if they could remain open. We helped school districts implement care for emergency workers, and with OCFS to develop an application and payment process for CARES grant funds. We took a hard look at our business operations, applying for available payroll and operating loan and grants. Sadly, we laid off five staff in May. We remain scarred by this turn of events.
Through the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, the Management Team pushed through because the work had to get done. Thousands of people depended on us to be their support, their advocate, their lifeline. While there were moments of levity, the days were tough. However, knowing that the Management Team put their own fears, anxieties, and time to the side, knowing at the end of every day what we have done is good for the children is incredibly humbling.
Thank you all.