Our thoughts are with you as we all face the challenges of coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the rapid changes it is bringing to our daily lives. We know that parents and child care providers are significantly impacted right now, and we will be continuing our advocacy work on behalf of young children and their families.
This page will serve as a platform for the latest news, guidance, and resources, as well as keeping you updated on ways that you can take action to support families and the early childhood system. Help guide and inform our work by sharing your story about how this is impacting you and what support you think is needed.
Things are evolving quickly, so please check back regularly for the latest updates. We wish you all continued good health and safety as we work together in these unprecedented times to do what’s best for our county’s youngest children.
Apply to the Child Care Provider COVID-19 Relief Fund
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has established the Child Care Provider COVID-19 Relief Fund in order to offer assistance to licensed centers and homes actively serving children or working to reopen. Centers throughout the County will have the opportunity to apply for one-time grant funds to assist with COVID-19 related expenses incurred. While we know the funding we provide will not meet all of the needs faced by centers, we are hopeful that funds will be helpful during this critical time. Applications will be accepted through July 20th, or until funds are expended. Please note that centers are eligible for only one funding grant; multiple applications will not be accepted. Please be prepared to submit your form W9 along with the application. You may email us at covid19@smartstartof meck.org or call 704-377-6588 with questions.
How You Can Help
Our community is facing an unprecedented challenge, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can support Smart Start of Mecklenburg County’s response by donating directly.
Click below to donate today.
News & Resources
The NC Department of Health and Human Services, along with public and private partners across the state, have established (3) programs to help children as we work to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- A hotline connecting essential workers to local child care options
- A texting service to help families in need find meal sites; and
- A list of educational resources (birth – grade 2) for parents who are trying to keep their young children engaged and learning while schools and care facilities are closed.
Additional Resources from NC Department of Health & Human Services and DCDEE:
- Details on Pandemic Electronic Benefits (P-EBT)
- Free Emotional Support for Being on the COVID-19 Frontlines
- Get the latest updates on COVID-19 cases in NC with the DHHS COVID-19 Dashboard, now updated to include data on race, ethnicity, and gender.
- Guidance for Schools and Child Care Centers
- Guidance for Pregnant Women and Children
- Stop the Spread of Germs Flyer (in English and Spanish)
Additional Local Resources
- Local Agency Updates as of 4.15.20
- Free Tools and Supplies for Those Working with the Crisis
- MedLink of Mecklenburg and other community health resources: Adapting to COVID-19
Here is a summary of how Mecklenburg County’s health care safety net providers are adapting to the current COVID-19 crisis. This includes information on clinic schedules, availability of in-person or telehealth visits, fees for services, and whether agencies are accepting new patients. MedLink of Mecklenburg advocates for improved access to care in Mecklenburg County through education, communication, and collaboration among services providers.
- Carolinas Alliance COVID-19 Match Site – This is a program dedicated to matching the needs of the Carolinas healthcare providers, businesses, and government organizations with manufacturers, vendors, suppliers, and talent who can help deliver crucial supplies and services.
Mental Health Support
- Self-Help Tool (Mental Health America)
- Coronavirus and Mental Health (Mental Health America)
- Relaxation Activities for Kids (Save the Children)
- A Mask for Every American (claim a free mask)
- Wear a mask. Slow the spread. Protect your neighbors. (Novant)
- Social Distance-Friendly Support Groups (Mind Body Baby)
- Greater Charlotte Hope Line – 24/7 info on parenting, domestic violence and sexual assault. Call 980.771.4673.
- Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Child Trends)
- ZERO TO THREE: How to Talk to Children about the Coronavirus
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Resources for Parents
Parents in Need of Child Care:
If you are a parent who provides necessary services to, or cares for, members of our communities, and your child care has fallen through or is unavailable because of closures, please call this number to be connected with the right fit for you and your child: 1-888-600-1685.
- Click here to download a flyer in English and Spanish
- Child care options are for parents whose typical child care arrangements are unavailable due to school or child care closings and who cannot access other care. Options are available for infants up to children age 12.
- Under the direction of Gov. Cooper, NC DHHS, the NC Department of Public Instruction, and the NC Child Care Resource & Referral Network and partners across the state are working together to provide these vital child care options.
Early Care & Education
Financial Support for Child Care Programs:
- Emergency Loans:
- the U.S. Small Business Administration grant North Carolina an emergency declaration that would allow for small businesses economically affected by the coronavirus to receive loans
- COVID-19 Emergency Child Care Operations and Financing Guidance
- Child Care Emergency Economic Support Package (NC Early Education Coalition)
- New Operational Grants for Open Child Care Programs (NC Early Education Coalition)
- DCDEE is actively working to identify policy and regulatory requirements that can be temporarily waived, while still ensuring the health, safety and well-being of children. Click here for a chart that shows which rules now have some flexibility.
- During the crisis, all monitoring visits and environmental rated license assessments will not take place. This temporary change does not include investigations of complaints and investigations of child maltreatment.
Resources from Child Care Services Association:
- Child care providers: help inform parents about your availability or closure by updating your program’s open/closed status.
- Parents: click here for free services to find available child care.
Resources for Child Care Providers and Parents from National Organizations:
- Child Care Aware of America: Coronavirus News and Resources (including a webinar, decision-making guidance for centers, and policy resources)
- NAEYC: News and Resources (including a survey for child care centers and an online community for questions)
- NAEYC: Child Care in Crisis – Understanding the Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic
- NPR: Just for Kids – a Comic Exploring Coronavirus
- Vroom – a Bezos Family Foundation program
- Get the latest COVID-19 information for child care (NCDHHS)
- Child Care Health Consultants provide free emergency, health and safety training and on-site assistance.
- Guidelines from NC DHHS
- Online early educators’ community
- NAEYC’s recommendations
- Goodnight with Dolly (Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library)
- Child Care Emergency Economic Support Package(NC Early Education Coalition)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (US Department of Labor)
- To apply for unemployment: NCWorks at www.des.nc.gov or call 888-737-0259. The NC Works offices have closed, so unemployment services are all on-line or via phone right now.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration loans for North Carolina, for small businesses economically affected by the coronavirus.
Recursos en español
- Use la mascarilla. Reduzca la propagación. Proteja a sus vecinos. (Novant)
- Preguntas frecuentes sobre P-EBT
- Apoyo emocional gratuito para COVID-19
- El Departamento NCDHHS proveerá beneficios de alimentos adicionales a más de 800,000 niños que han recibido el impacto de la pandemia COVID-19 (NCDHHS )
- ¡Mascara Gratis!
- Orden de estadía en el hogar del condado de Mecklenburg – Preguntas frecuentes
- Hablar es enseñar
- El Gobernador Cooper anuncia herramienta de mensajes de texto para tener acceso a alimentos para niños
- CARES ACT – Programa de Proteccion de Cheques de Pagos
To access more complimentary resources for teachers, parents and caregivers, click the link below.