Dear Friends of Community Services for Children,
In the last four months, Community Services for Children has been startled and then shaken by the events unfolding in the world around us! Beginning March 14, 2020, we said an abrupt goodbye to the thousands of parents and children we were engaged with across Northeastern PA, as the world pandemic unfolded. The agency quickly transformed our work into a new and different type of service, providing a much-needed safety net for the child care community, families and children impacted by PA’s near complete shutdown and preschool/school closures. We are grateful to the conscientious decisions made by our state and federal legislators, prioritizing the critical role of Head Start/ Early Head Start, Pre K Counts and the Early Learning Resource Centers, while protecting the public.
During this tumultuous time, we continue to learn a lot! We have learned that our staff are amazing people, so committed to families in need! We have learned that our community has in place a strong network that pulled together to ensure children and families had food, emergency assistance and access to extraordinary health care. CSC’s Educators created digital messages, and a series of lessons using common items found in the home addressing all areas of learning for children from birth to age five! Family support staff reached out weekly to families, providing health, parenting education, community resources and ongoing sources of child care. CSC’s Early Learning Resource Center staff worked with the child care community to ensure continued quality funding, and ongoing funding of the Child Care Works program, while serving as a central resource of support and care to parents and the child care industry.
We have been reminded that families facing poverty lack the technological capacity and access to actually participate in the maelstrom of digital learning that has become our educational system. We saw that low income families making up a large part of the essential work force and living with suboptimal health status, were disproportionately affected by Coronavirus, facing loss after loss. And sadly, we were confronted by the horrific murder of George Floyd, demonstrating once again, that systemic, active racism pervades our society and continues to be endured by Black children and families today.
Though we share the value that racism has no place in CSC’s culture, we must acknowledge that racism is institutional, conscious, unconscious, and interwoven in every system. Understanding that early experiences in life shape brain architecture and who we become as adults, we must actively work to protect young children from the traumatic and long term negative impact of racism. CSC commits to reexamining our thoughts, feelings, actions, policies, practices, and values. Head Start was born out of the civil rights movement in 1965, with the core belief that every child and parent is valued and deserving of equal opportunity without bias. This legacy still serves as CSC’s foundation. As we move forward with a renewed commitment to antiracism, I hope that you will join us in ensuring that every child has the equal opportunity to reach its full potential, in learning and in life.
Paula J. Margraf, CEO/President