From the desk of Chris Hansen

Dear CCSWFL colleagues, 

It’s said we learn a lot about ourselves, and each other, during times of crisis. In 2020, I’ve come to appreciate every employee of Child Care of Southwest Florida more than you can imagine. We have endured one of the most challenging years we’ll face in our lifetimes. Yet, I’m continually greeted with optimism, endless hope and your ear-to-ear smiles. 

Closing our centers in March to protect the health and wellbeing of students and staff was the right decision. However, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make during my career. It created a hardship on employees who didn’t know when they would return. It created a hardship on families who temporarily lost their child care services. It created a hardship on students who need a strong early childhood education program to prepare them for school. 

Within a matter of days, though, we began focusing on our return. Staff checked in with colleagues and students, just to make sure they were OK. They helped draft new safety protocols and cleaning procedures to ensure a safe return, whenever that would be. We grew closer together as a team by being apart. 

As I wrote in a guest opinion published in Florida Weekly, reopening child care centers was a critical element to restart our economyOur centers were among the first in Southwest Florida to reopen. This allowed parents to get back to work to provide for their families, and our community. Child care workers are essential. 

During the pandemic, hospitals and medical centers around the nation erected signage proclaiming “heroes work here. The same can be said about our teachers and staff at Child Care of Southwest Florida. You truly are heroes – heroes for your students, heroes for the families we serve and heroes for the community. 

Thank you for your dedication, professionalism and commitment during 2020. Each of you is my hero. 

By Chris Hansen, CEO of Child Care of Southwest Florida.