Child care providers across the country, many of whom were already struggling to stay open before this crisis, are facing even greater challenges as enrollment declines exponentially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while essential workers, including medical professionals and first responders, are finding that the child care supply is limited and under-resourced – verging on total collapse. Even the providers trying to remain open to care for the children of essential workers are struggling. If this industry collapses, our economic recovery will be more difficult and may never recover. America’s child care providers need more relief if they want to survive this crisis.
The situation varies from state to state, and even from community to community.
- As Americans and businesses across the country, including child care providers, take advantage of relief opportunities made available by Congress, lawmakers are already working on supplementing some of the assistance made available through the CARES Act. FFYF and our partners shared recommendations with Congress abut the need for more support directed at the child care industry. And this morning, Angela Rachidi with the American Enterprise Institute made the case in an op-ed in The Hill for increased relief directed specifically at child care providers. “Our elected leaders might be uncomfortable showing preference to child care providers when many other businesses are also suffering. However, if child care providers cannot return to normal operations in large numbers, many workers will also not return. So we need bold action that prioritizes child care providers so that millions of parents can also get back to work.”
- Communities are continuing to grapple with challenges during this crisis, including ensuring child care is available to essential workers. In some instances, non-profit organizations are stepping in to fill the gaps in services. As CBS News reports, more than 645 YMCAs, for example, are providing food for children who are affected by school closures, while more than 800 provide child care to frontline workers. Even as these organizations serve their communities, funding is not guaranteed, and many are facing the same challenges small-business child care providers are experiencing. Without additional relief, these programs are unsustainable.
- In Nebraska, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute surveyed more than 2,100 early care and education providers to better understand the perspectives of those providing child care during the pandemic. Of those surveyed, 36 percent of child care center administrators said their facility would not survive a closure of any length, and nearly 60% of providers did not expect to be paid during the closure.
- According to the Florida Department of Education, as of last week nearly 60 percent of child care providers were closed due to low enrollment and low revenue. In an effort to ensure essential workers can afford and access child care, the Office of Early Learning released a new program to cover the cost of care on a temporary basis, regardless of income.
- As child care facilities struggle to stay open due to plummeting enrollment, essential workers, including first responders and health care providers, are finding it difficult to find child care. Health care workers in Iowa are being forced to leave their job to care for their children. The Iowa CareGivers Association surveyed direct care workers, including home health care providers and caregivers, and found that 20 percent had to quit because their child care provider closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, per KCCI.
- Meanwhile, in many states family-owned child care providers, schools, and non-profit organizations remain open to care for the children of essential workers. In Illinois, child care facilities that receive state funding are allowed to stay open to provide care for the children of essential workers.
- Some states are providing dedicated support to the child industry. California Governor Newsom released $100 million in funding to support child care services and provide essential workers with child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indiania’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund identified child care for essential workers as a top priority and has dispersed funds across the state to provide care. Under a new executive order, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families now has the flexibility to allow child care facilities to remain open to offer child care for essential workers.
Resources and relief are available for child care providers and workers through the CARES Act:
- This morning, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced it will release additional CCDBG funds to states. These funds were authorized by Congress last month under the CARES Act. Learn more by visiting our website and see additional ACF resources here.
- FFYF has a resource outlining specific CARES Act provisions that support small businesses, in addition to our previous overview of the Paycheck Protection Act. This new guide covers the expansion of eligibility requirements for SBA loans, increases in the maximum SBA Express Loans, and funding for entrepreneurial assistance.
- Among other provisions of the CARES Act aimed at providing greater financial stability to children and families during a time of tremendous economic uncertainty, the bill includes an estimated $260 billion to expand access to unemployment benefits, including for self-employed individuals and others not traditionally eligible for benefits, and additional and extended benefits. More about that here.
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