Empowering Self-Care in ECE Affiliates and Friends: Enhancing Vaccine Confidence Among Low-Income Latina Childcare Providers in New York City

Project intro

The purpose of this project was to engage members of historically marginalized communities in discussions to address institutional mistrust and vaccine confidence relating to the COVID-19 vaccine. We partnered with ECE on the Move, a grassroots organization to support the needs of early childhood educators (ECE) working in home-based childcare settings. The ECEs within the organization represent primarily low-income Latina women whose first language is most often Spanish.

Using an anti-oppressive, psychoeducation-based approach we developed an interactive, informational webinar held in English and Spanish to ensure outreach to our target audience. The content included scientific facts about the development of the vaccine and ways in which it works and functions in the body. It also covered issues of historical racism and invited participants to engage in discussions about institutional mistrust and its impact on vaccine confidence. We worked with three experts in the scientific/medical field who were also bilingual speakers: Maria Sierra, Vanessa Estrada, and Chris Gonzalez. Their ability to provide the most current COVID-19 data and information about new regulations was crucial in delivering correct information to the participants during this ever-evolving time of the pandemic.

Within six months, we held eight webinars with a total of 112 participants. Four of the webinars were held exclusively for ECE on the Move. Given their shifting needs and increased uptake in receiving vaccinations, we connected with another community organization, WHEDco, to reach more people. This collaboration bolstered WHEDco’s ongoing Vaccine Education Initiative, which began in January 2021, in an effort to improve vaccine equity and health outcomes in the South Bronx, a neighborhood particularly hard hit by the pandemic. The last two webinars were streamed on Facebook and can be viewed by the public. (English / Spanish)

At the end of each webinar, participants were asked to fill out an exit survey which asked about their likelihood to seek out the vaccine, whether or not the informational-discussion webinar was helpful, and if they had any additional questions. This exit survey was also used to collect payment information for the stipends for participant stipends. We received 99 exit survey responses and distributed $2,970 in stipends.

We received matching funds from the Mason Lab to extend our ability to provide stipends for participants. We are grateful to both Columbia School of Social Work and the Mason Lab for investing in this project and empowering Latina childcare workers in New York City to feel confident in the COVID-19 vaccines.

Team Members

Juliana Pinto McKeen (she, her) was born in Bogota, Colombia and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. As a previously undocumented person, Juliana worked as an in-home caregiver for over a decade. Later, she co-founded and directed an early childhood program in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The program was open for six years before being forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the crisis, Juliana became a founding member of the Brooklyn Coalition of Early Childhood Programs and a member of the Empire State Campaign for Childcare. Most recently, Juliana was the Policy and Program Manager at Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap. Juliana holds a BA from Hunter College in Psychology with a minor in African American, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies, and a master’s degree from Columbia University in Social Work. She is published in the 2021 edition of the Columbia Social Work Review with an article titled, “Mind the Gap: Addressing Childcare Inequalities for Children and Caregivers.”

Nicholas Hakimi (he//him/él) is a dual degree student at Columbia’s School of Social work and Mailman School of Public Health. His concentration is in global mental health epidemiology and clinical treatment for psychiatric disorders. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent part of his childhood in Mexico City and Southern California, before moving to New York City for graduate school. He currently works for the New York State Psychiatric Institute as a bilingual research assistant, while also providing bilingual mental health therapy at the Visiting Nurse Service of NY’s FRIENDS Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Clinic. He looks forward to publishing various scientific papers he’s working on as a co-author, and gain clinical experience once he graduates to achieve an LCSW. He wants to continue working on advocating and providing mental health treatments for children and adolescents around the globe.

Angie Monreal (she/her) is a first year sociology Ph.D. student at the University of California, Irvine, where she studies the intersections of incarceration, immigration, and criminalization. She has a M.S.W. from Columbia University and is B.A. is sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work titled, “ The Testimonios of System-Impacted Daughters of Color on Healing from Parental Incarceration”, has been published in the Columbia Social Work Review Journal. Angie was born and raised in Anaheim, California and is the proud daughter of immigrants from Mexico.

Emma Harger (she/her) is a recent graduate of Columbia School of Social Work. Before attending graduate school, Emma spent time teaching English in Chile and living in Washington, DC working with nonprofits as a fundraising consultant. She currently works as a social worker at Jericho Project in their rapid rehousing program, where she assists young adults experiencing homlessness in obtaining housing, gaining employment, and promoting overall financial stability. She also provides direct therapy to individuals, and plans to pursue her clinical license. Emma hails from Pittsburgh, PA and spends her time outside of work enjoying the outdoors. She holds a B.A. in developmental psychology and German from Carnegie Mellon University.

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Amy Kapadia is a Lecturer in Discipline at the Columbia School of Social Work. Dr. Kapadia’s research interests stem from community-based clinical work within the field of serious mental illness, and include the mental health effects of discrimination and stigma among marginalized groups, and psychoeducation intervention development to enhance mental health within the community. Most recently, Dr. Kapadia’s work has focused on addressing the impact of COVID-19 among community and spiritual leaders within marginalized communities to enhance recovery and resilience, and to address disparities caused by structural forces. Dr. Kapadia teaches within the Clinical and Advanced Generalist Programming and Practice tracks. She embodies an anti-oppressive, strengths-based approach that centers on collaborative learning and shared experiences. Her goals are to elicit students’ capacities, encourage vulnerability and self-reflective work, nurture a belief in themselves and encourage the use of their voices. Dr. Kapadia holds a PhD from the Columbia School of Social Work.