Here’s a look at recent news coverage and analysis of the nation’s child care crisis:
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which includes some emergency funding for child care through the CCDBG program, however, we know that far more federal support is needed to ensure the child care market will survive this crisis. Extended closures have forced nearly half of child care providers to close their doors and those still operating or reopening will have to operate on financial losses for months to come as a result of new social distancing requirements and low enrollment, as parents slowly return to work. The devastating impact of these realities cannot be sustained without direct federal investments that ensure child care providers can keep their doors open to meet the needs of working families. Understanding that this critical industry needs significant, dedicated relief from Congress, a group of lawmakers sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy calling for additional assistance through a Child Care Stabilization Fund to support child care providers during this crisis and through the economic recovery.
In a scathing New York Times op-ed today, Lauren Birchfield Kennedy and Katie Mayshak articulate why the child care industry shouldn’t be lumped in with other industries to compete for loans. “Child care providers are perpetually strapped for cash and typically have minimal or no operations infrastructure, putting them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the Hunger Games of securing federal small-business assistance, such as Paycheck Protection Program loans… Hopefully, your neighborhood spin studio will survive. Unfortunately, your day care probably won’t.”
“Child care providers are perpetually strapped for cash and typically have minimal or no operations infrastructure, putting them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the Hunger Games of securing federal small-business assistance, such as Paycheck Protection Program loans.”
Before this crisis, child care was already difficult to find and afford for many families, and as CNBC reports, this pandemic will only further diminish the nation’s child care supply, as providers struggle to remain open with plummeting enrollment and uncertainty. Per USA Today, “COVID-19 has plunged the child care industry, 90% of which is privately run, into a crisis the likes of which the nation has never seen.”
Child care is a specialized, and expensive service to deliver, yet providers must set tuition rates that are low enough for families to afford but high enough to cover expenses like payroll, rent, and more. Given that most providers only break even if they are operating at close to full capacity,continued reductions in enrollment and new limitations on class size will result in, “a significant loss of revenue, which leads to an equally significant loss of staff because of layoffs,” according to Cindy Cisneros of the Committee for Economic Development.
The severity of this crisis for the nation’s child care providers is due in large part to the fragmented, underfunded nature of America’s child care system – or lack thereof. As Educare DC’s Pyper Davis told CNBC last week, “child care is a system that is really not a system — it’s a bunch of things kind of cobbled together that are vulnerable to a big gust of wind.” The situation in one state or community might vary greatly from that in another jurisdiction, both in terms of cost and supply, but also for public funding and regulations. One thing that seems to be universal for child care across the country right now: the COVID-19 crisis.
- Anchorage, Alaska is facing a child care shortage due to business closures, remote education, and work from home policies for parents. According to the Anchorage Health Department, the city has lost nearly 5,500 possible spaces for children in child care facilities, resulting in hardship for parents, providers, and the economy.
- Reports out of Colorado and Indiana show that preschools and child care centers across the country faced difficult decisions to close, and now as states are allowing businesses to reopen and parents return to work, there are even more challenges ahead of them.
- Connecticut daycares have stayed open throughout the quarantine, but many parents have opted to keep their children at home. When businesses begin opening up this week and more parents head back to work, many will need childcare. Connecticut Public Radio dedicated an hour to discuss the looming crisis facing the child care industry in the state. Listen here.
- Mainers returning to work do not know who will be available to watch their children as overall child care capacity across the state has dropped nearly 60 percent in late April. For child care providers, the CARES Act allowed for a one-time stipend of $175 or $75 per child, but it did not cover the actual losses due to declining enrollment. As they make plans to reopen, many are concerned that staffing will be an issue as schools and summer programs are closed for children.
What We Are Reading: Saturday Essay: Child care is essential service – Karen McCoy, president of the Toledo Day Nursery, writes, “With the governor slowly reopening businesses, child-care needs to be highly recognized and valued for its significance to the economy. For many to return to work, they need child care. However, it is not just care that children need, it is essential that they have high-quality experiences to support their growth, and a nurturing, encouraging, consistent teacher to foster their development, curiosity, and social/emotional skills.”
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