On September 29, Greenpoint Garden Playhouse, welcomed New York State lawmakers and community activists for a visit to discuss the hardships of COVID-19 and the importance of supporting providers and families through recovery. Greenpoint Garden Playhouse is a group family child care program in Brooklyn, owned and operated by program Director Kasia Kaim-Goncalves, that has been participating in QUALITYstarsNY since 2019.

The visit was part of the first day of a state-wide listening tour that NYS Senator Jabari Brisport, Chair of the NYS Senate Children and Families Committee, is undertaking to discuss universal child care and get input from parents and providers. Senator Brisport was joined by Senator Julia Salazar, Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, and Executive Director of The Alliance for Quality Education New York Jasmine Gripper for the visit.

Greenpoint Garden Playhouse’s QUALITYstarsNY Quality Improvement Specialist Shelley Benvenuti was also invited to join the visit to highlight the ways the program has benefited from their continuous quality improvement work in QUALITYstarsNY. Through their participation, Greenpoint Garden Playhouse has been able to secure scholarships for staff to further their education and attend high quality professional development. They’ve also accessed materials such as a laptop to support planning and program management, playground materials to encourage a variety of outdoor activities, and open-ended play materials to enhance their learning environment. Additionally, Kasia is a regular participant in a biweekly learning community for family child care providers.

The visit was followed up by a virtual public forum in the evening run by Senator Bisport for parents and providers in Brooklyn to add to the discussion around universal child care. Kasia was a speaker during the forum.

Many critical issues affecting providers and parents were highlighted in the forum, including the need for equitable and adequate compensation for early childhood educators in all settings – school-based, center-based, and family child care programs. Challenges related to child care availability and affordability for most families, as well as the current shortage of qualified early childhood educators, were also raised during the discussion.

In addition to highlighting the hardships and issues that have been impacting her group family child care program and the families they serve, Kasia emphasized the ways QUALITYstarsNY has been an invaluable resource, especially during COVID-19.

“Programs like QUALITYstarsNY allow providers to not only purchase equipment, but a big benefit has been to access training and help us connect to providers across the state,” said Kaim-Goncalves. “That has been invaluable to the way that my staff have been able to progress during the pandemic. We’re able to connect to many people and learn from one another.”

Greenpoint Garden Playhouse Director Kasia Kaim-Goncalves with state lawmakers, community activists, and their QUALITYstarsNY Quality Improvement Specialist during program visit.

Director Kasia Kaim-Goncalves discusses impact of COVID-19 on her group family child care program.

Kasia Kaim-Goncalves was also featured this year in the Lessons in Leadership series on the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute blog. Read the blog post.