Today’s blog interview is from Ms. Tanisha Miller. She is the Manager for the Community Relations Unit at the Early Childhood Commission.
ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.
ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Unit’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?
TM: The Community Relations Unit collaborates with relevant stakeholders and provides timely support and intervention on a regional basis. Our mandate is to assist in improving the quality of early childhood development programmes and services within targeted communities. In carrying out this mandate, parental involvement is paramount. The Unit is the activity hub of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC); we create awareness amongst support groups and on-going assessment of community needs regionally. Standard 10 from the Twelve Operating Standards addresses the importance of interaction between parents, early childhood institutions (ECIs) and communities, along with stakeholders and other partners. These activities are done regionally across the island in mostly rural and/or at-risk communities and are carried out by Community Relations Officers (CROs).
ECC: How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?
TM: As most of our activities are conducted in communities, the pandemic has curtailed these events which involved interacting face-to-face with residents and ECIs. The ability to meet individuals within their spaces and facilitate stakeholder collaborations has been minimized due to the physical distancing protocols. Additionally, with the closure of schools we are unable to execute child-oriented, in-person initiatives and interactions like Play Day, ECC Read Pon Di Cawna, ECC Pon Di Cawna, ECC Community Flex and ECC Walk and Talk.
ECC: What has your Unit been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?
TM: The CRU has been heavily focused on supporting parents during this challenging time. We have been engaging parents via WhatsApp groups, Virtual Parenting Sessions, One-on-one communication and Parenting Webinars. We have moved most of our activities to virtual platforms to accommodate a wider audience as well as to observe the COVID-19 protocols.
ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?
TM: Post-Covid-19, the hope for the ECD sector is to continue with virtual activities and that parents will continue to improve in the use of technology to prepare for any other eventuality in the future. Prior to COVID-19, our focus on technology was mostly surrounded on social media engagement. We are now in an age where technology has changed the way in which society behaves – communities, schools and parents are able to manipulate several different online platforms. Therefore, it is the hope of the Unit that additional virtual initiatives will be executed to positively impact schools, homes and communities.