If the child care industry collapses, working parents won’t be able to return to work
WASHINGTON – Last night, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) was joined by many of the nation’s leading child advocacy organizations in sending a letter to Congress detailing essential recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they develop an economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Under normal circumstances, child care providers already operate on very small margins, and extended closures over the next several weeks or months could potentially put a substantial percentage of them out of business permanently, exacerbating the realities of the widespread child care deserts as they exist today. At the same time, many child care facilities are being asked to remain open, with only a fraction of the income they normally make, in order to provide care in this time of incredible need and uncertainty.
“Without question, child care is a crucial pillar supporting the entirety of America’s labor market and economy,” said FFYF Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “Right now, as businesses and schools are being told to close their doors to limit the spread of this deadly coronavirus, countless workers deemed ‘essential’ are still relying on child care to be able to show up to work and keep our country running. Yet as an industry, the child care sector was already operating on shoestring margins, and providers only get paid when children are in attendance. If these child care small businesses are to keep their doors open, continue supporting America’s essential workforce throughout this crisis, and be around to care for our nation’s children when parents return to work, the child care sector needs immediate and substantial assistance from the federal government. As Congress considers a far-reaching economic stimulus package, lawmakers must include robust support for the industry that makes it possible for millions of working parents to go to work each day. Without it, the child care industry will collapse.”
What we knew before this crisis – that the cost of care is a tremendous but essential economic burden on American families; that businesses across the country see firsthand the interconnection between child care access and quality; the paramount importance of a reliable workforce; and the role providers and child care teachers play in supporting it all – all of this has only been exacerbated now. Significant federal funding and flexibility is needed to do three things.
First, ensure child care providers who are closed have access to federal funding that will allow them to pay staff and cover fixed costs, including but not limited to business interruption grants. Child care providers vary widely in their current structures and funding streams. No one financial tool will work for all providers, thus it is essential that child care be included in all available recovery programs.
- First, ensure child care providers who are closed will continue to receive funding that will allow them to pay staff and cover fixed costs, including but not limited to business interruption grants. Child care providers vary widely in their current structures and funding streams. No one financial tool will work for all providers, thus it is essential that child care be included in all available recovery programs.
- Second, make sure that providers who are staying open during the crisis have the support necessary to do so and that the children attending their programs – particularly children of first responder, health care providers, and other essential personnel – are receiving assistance.
- Third, sustain the market today and into the future by providing assistance to child care as any other small business receiving relief.
The First Five Years Fund is the leading bipartisan federal advocacy organization working to ensure all children from birth through age five have equal access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality care and education to support their healthy development and help them achieve their full potential in school and life. FFYF seeks to expand federal support for all early learning and care opportunities that are high-quality and focused first on serving those children most-at-risk. http://www.ffyf.org