We are writing to follow up on our November 20 letter sharing ideas about how the out-of-school time sector can better collaborate with DC Public Schools, public charter schools, and the students and families they serve, as we navigate the pandemic and look to give our kids the support they need and deserve. 

When 2020 began, none of us could have imagined what challenges would confront us this year. The racist policies and resulting circumstances that put Black and brown children, youth and families at a disadvantage when it comes to learning, staying healthy, and maintaining economic security were exploited and exacerbated by COVID-19. The parallel pandemics of a racial reckoning and a destabilized democracy further undermined the safety and well-being of tens of thousands of District residents. We’ve had to fight hard and the battle is far from over. 

Antes de que la pandemia de COVID-19 afectara al Distrito, los programas de cuidado infantil o aprendizaje temprano ya se encontraban bajo presión. No había suficientes vacantes para todos los bebés y niños pequeños que lo necesitaban y, para muchas familias del Distrito, no siempre eran accesibles o asequibles. Ahora, tras nueve meses de restricciones relativas a la salud y la seguridad, cierres, subsidios gubernamentales limitados y un drástico descenso de las inscripciones, los docentes de educación temprana que se han dedicado a cuidar de nuestros ciudadanos más jóvenes se están preguntando si sus negocios sobrevivirán. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the District, child care/early learning programs were already stretched thin. There weren’t enough slots for all the infants and toddlers who needed them, and child care was not always accessible or affordable to many District families. Now, after nine months of health and safety restrictions, closures, limited government subsidies, and dramatically decreased enrollment, early childhood educators who have dedicated themselves to caring for our youngest citizens are wondering if their businesses will survive. 

WASHINGTON, DC — Nearly 1 in 5 families with children living in the District of Columbia are worried about paying their rent or making their next mortgage payment, according to Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond. A new, 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzes how families are faring during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The inaugural year of Under 3 DC is one I will never forget! I started 2020 excited about my plan to move to the District and lead DC Action for Children’s signature campaign to fund and implement the Birth-to-Three for All DC law. Instead, I began my work remotely from out-of-state during a public health crisis, building a hard-charging, dedicated team and charging ahead at what felt like 100 miles per hour to protect and preserve essential health and education services for families with young children. 

DC Action for Children was pleased to formalize the new DC OST Coalition earlier this Fall, and is now introducing a new blog series. It will highlight out-of-school-time programs, by creating space to share the stories of voices that have been left out of the discussion about how to support virtual learning and provide for safe and healthy in-person learning for those who need access to it. 

DC Action is seeking a talented DIGITAL ORGANIZER who can use social media and tech tools to drive transformative organizing campaigns for education, health, economic and racial justice.

DC Action for Children and DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) recently merged to form an even stronger, independent voice for children and youth. We provide data analysis, policy solutions, and collective advocacy on critical issues facing our young people. We envision a District of Columbia where all kids, regardless of their race, family’s income, or zip code, have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

We are also the home of DC Kids Count, a data resource that tracks key indicators of child and youth well-being; Under 3 DC, a city-wide coalition advocating for families with infants and toddlers; and now home to the newly formalized DC Out-of-School Time Coalition, which is broad and diverse serving thousands of students across the District.

Even in 2020, Black and brown residents in the District earn less money and do not have equal access to quality medical care, child care, and education. Women-led household income consistently lags behind couple-led households and even single-male led households. Black youth are over-policed and at higher risk for suicide than white youth. These statistics are undeniable affirmations of the failure of “color-blind” policies, which instead cement a legacy of systemic racism. We believe this data must be used as a starting point for innovative and equitable solutions that will transform our city.