Project Pinwheel

A note about COVID-19

Childcare providers offer stability in a child’s life when the world around them feels unstable. During COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to continue to look for ways to connect with parents and children. Sharing connection, support and encouragement with parents and children can benefit both them and you.

What Caregivers and Early Learning and Childcare Providers Can Do

As an early learning or child care provider or caretaker, the children you look after often spend more time with you than anyone else other than their family.

Regardless of whether you’re a childcare worker or a friend or family member looking after the children of others, your interactions with the children you care for have a profound influence on their lives and those of their families. Your frequent interaction with families allows you to be a partner and confidante to parents and family members who may share their struggles and challenges with you.
Listen and Connect

Listen and Connect

You know parenting can be demanding and asking for help can be hard. Acknowledging this and offering support is an important connection for all families.

You can also support parents and families by modeling good child-caretaker interactions to parents. Drop-off and pick-up can be rushed, stressful times of the day, but you can offer calm, smooth interactions while listening to parents and relaying important information about their child’s day.

Educate and Share

Educate and Share

To support families during times of stress, you can guide parents toward community-based resources so that they can get the information or services they need.

  • Get to know the local resources available for families and children and share them with parents. The Fig Tree resource guide offers a wealth of information on everything from mental well-being to financial assistance in Spokane County. When possible, help parents get in touch with organizations that might be able to assist them.
  • Share information about child development with parents. This can help parents understand what is developmentally appropriate for their child’s age and give them ideas about what to expect and how to respond. Parents can use the CDC’s Milestone Tracker App to track their child’s development. You can also use this brochure for a quick overview of developmental milestones.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics’ also offers a wealth of resources for parents with information about kids of every age. Similarly, ParentHelp123 provides Washington State families with information about child development as well as state and local services and resources.
  • Watch The Period of PURPLE Crying, and encourage parents to watch it. This short video explains crying as a stage of infant development and provides guidance designed to help parents understand why their infant is crying and avoid frustration.
  • Abuse and neglect may not always be reported or investigated immediately. When families and children need urgent help and relief, organizations like Vanessa Behan can be of great assistance. Vanessa Behan can be reached at 509.535.3155.


In order to provide the best care possible for the children you look after, it is important for you to continue to nourish your own professional learning and find ways to improve or build upon your childcare practices or program.

  • If you are a licensed child care provider, consider joining Early Achievers, provided by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). This program provides early learning professionals with support and resources including free training and coaching, scholarships and grants, and professional advice. Early Achievers also provides parents with information about participating in early learning and child care programs, so consider mentioning this program to parents who are ready to transition their child from informal child care to an early learning center.
  • The Spokane County Library offers free STARS classes, which are trainings that cover a range of topics from child development to new ideas for engaging with children. These classes are open to anyone who takes care of children. Licensed childcare providers and individuals caring for a child who is in the Working Connections Childcare program can receive STAR credits, which count toward state training requirements.
  • Head Start offers resources for early childhood caretakers and learning centers, including information about family engagement and building positive, goal-oriented relationships with parents and children.
  • Watch this TEDx video from Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald on how talking to babies and toddlers nourishes their brains and sets them up for better performance in school and life.
  • The children in your care and their families may come from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. Excelerate Success is a nonprofit organization that provides learning and training opportunities for professionals to learn about how social and systemic issues such as racism, sexism and classism can impact families.
  • Learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and brain development and seek out training opportunities for you and your staff that cover trauma informed care. This foundational knowledge will help you to understand childhood milestones and trauma and recognize the signs of neglect and abuse.
  • Learn how you can provide a safe and consistent relationship for the kids in your care—check out the 1-2-3 Care Toolkit.
  • You may be the first to suspect neglect or abuse. This can place you in a difficult position as you decide if it’s appropriate and warranted to report suspected abuse to Child Protective Services. If you are a licensed childcare provider, you are a mandatory reporter and you must report cases of suspected abuse or neglect. This guide from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) provides information about the reporting process.

Accommodating the diverse needs of the children in your care can be a challenge, but there are resources that can help you manage special situations—here are a few examples:

  • The Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) provides early intervention and early childhood special education for newborns with disabilities or developmental delays through age 3 in Spokane County. Visit NEWESD101 for similar services in Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Lincoln counties.
  • To find out if children are eligible to receive developmental disability services, contact the Developmental Disabilities Administration at 509.329.2900 or follow the steps in this chart.
  • The Washington Autism Alliance provides legal services to help families access health insurance benefits for those with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Contact them at 425.836.6512.