COVID-19 Local Response Principles: Supporting Early Childhood Providers and Other Caregivers

By:

  • Tonja Rucker
  • Kathryn Shibuya
March 23, 2021

NLC is committed to providing cities, towns and villages with the tools they need to Respond, Recover and Rebuild, and has released ten new policy briefs meant to provide clear, actionable steps that municipal leaders can take to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.


The COVID-19 pandemic has put family members into full-time caregiving roles for months on end with many families struggling to find adequate care while they go to work. As the pandemic continues, family members find themselves as around-the-clock caregivers trying to keep their children, aging parents, and family members with a disability safe while working remotely. Beyond being stressful and exhausting, that reality has forced millions of parents/family members, mostly women, to make tough decisions about how much to work, if at all.

These are unprecedented times and local government will play a key role in ensuring that their community can recover from a caregiving crisis in a way that is equitable and prioritizes the needs of children and families. Big or small, city, town, or village, local government is uniquely positioned to improve early childhood outcomes and create equal supports to the diverse needs of the elderly and disabled populations to ensure a tomorrow where children and families can succeed. Key takeaways for local officials include:

  • Recognize early childhood workers and providers as critical players in community health and well-being and vital to economic recovery.
    • Example: The Governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak declared child care facilities as essential enabling these businesses to continue to safely provide care during the pandemic.
  • Strengthen the early childhood workforce by including childcare center operators as small business owners.
  • Improve the local system of supports and services for caregivers for the elderly and disabled.  
    • Example: DuPage County and the City of Naperville, IL have opened a Caregiving Resource Center to provide respite care and gap-filling services to informal or family caregivers of persons over the age of 60. Services can include respite care, home modification, assistive devices, transportation and financial assistance.

Cities and towns, and the nation as a whole, benefit from investing in high-quality early care and education and caregiving for loved ones who may be elderly or live with disabilities. This is vital for the children and adults who need care, as well as to support the workforce of city governments and businesses, nonprofits and other employers in the community.

Learn More

See NLC’s COVID-19 Response Principles, and specific brief: Supporting Early Childhood Providers and Other Caregivers.

About the Authors

Tonja Rucker

About the Authors

Tonja Rucker is the Program Director, Early Childhood Success.

Kathryn Shibuya

Kathryn Shibuya is the Senior Program Specialist for Early Childhood Success in the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at NLC.