Professional Resource

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PERSPECTIVES FROM OUR LEADERS: Message From Paul Spicer, President of the Board of Directors

"I know that many of you have experienced severe disruptions in the way you practice, and the families you serve are often experiencing even more significant disruptions."

Dear Fellow Members of ZERO TO THREE,

It was just over a month ago when I decided I should probably skip the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game I had been planning to attend. That game was never played (that was when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 after flaunting infection control recommendations in previous press events) and the National Basketball Association season was suspended the next day. They still haven’t returned. Even then, I assumed this would be transient, that we would soon be back to working as normal. Now we are in our second month of the restrictions we live with these days, even here in libertarian Oklahoma, and there is no sign that that will change anytime soon (wishful politicians notwithstanding). Even when we do, there are reasons to think we will never return completely to the way we were living in early March.

I am an academic, able to do much of my work from my home office, which I’ve had for years. Indeed, there are ways in which my work has gotten easier—no trips, fewer meetings, more time to read, write, and reflect. But I know that many of you have experienced severe disruptions in the way you practice, and the families you serve are often experiencing even more significant disruptions. Your already difficult work has just gotten so much harder, and a not insignificant number of you may be among the rapidly growing number of people who have been furloughed or laid off. Matthew shared a message detailing many of the ways that ZERO TO THREE continues to fight for all of us and the families we serve. It is a truly impressive set of organized activities and I, for one, am hopeful that much of what we sow here can produce meaningful change in how we organize services for our fellow citizens going forward. The disruptions of this pandemic make clear all the ways we continue to fail in providing for the most vulnerable among us, and that most certainly includes young children and their families, and especially those living in, or on the margins of, poverty.

“… what we sow here can produce meaningful change in how we organize services for our fellow citizens going forward.”

There are, of course, all sorts of competing priorities in these difficult times (and probably within your own lives), but I think we all have a tremendous opportunity to advocate for the services for infants, toddlers, and families that we know we need now, and that we will continue to need as we slowly find our way back to whatever the world will look like on the other side of this crisis. This pandemic has exposed the fault lines of our society and the vital importance of the services and service sectors to which many of you have devoted your professional lives. It is clear we have significant work to do, both to recover from this crisis and to do a much better job when the next one arises.

I, for one, am grateful for the connection I have to ZERO TO THREE and, through that, to all of you. This is an incredible community of people who truly value the care of both ourselves and each other, and I hope you are taking advantage of the opportunities we will continue to offer to connect. While we don’t yet know what the fall will bring, and there is no substitute for being able to physically gather, I have been surprised by how much is still possible online (and how tolerant everyone has become when our families, including our pets, intrude on our calls). Until we can actually meet again, I’ll look forward to seeing many of you online (just remember to unmute before you speak).

Please do let us know how you are doing, and what we might do to better help you and the families you serve. While we may be physically separated, we really are all in this together, and I am so grateful for those connections in these unprecedented times.

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