June 30 – Tuesday – the loans I received for my nonprofit daycare, Hope Child Development Center, from the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program and my emergency support at the State will be exhausted. I don’t know what to do.
Unlike my colleagues in some other states, I was fortunate that Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Early Years Office Commissioner Beth Bye took extraordinary steps to stabilize child care programs during the coronavirus stop, including assurance that childcare subsidies – which represent 40% of Hope’s income – would remain at March 2020 levels until the end of June, regardless of the children’s attendance. The state further provided child care services like mine with a premium of up to $ 825 per week to pay the dangerous tariffs to our staff.
And a program called CTCares for frontline workers provided a weekly benefit of $ 250 to $ 500 to eligible frontline workers for child care expenses for six weeks. This has kept Hope open to serve our essential working parents, even as the revised classroom sizes and the reduced capacity of 30 children – compared to the normal 77 – reduce our capacity by about 60%.
These programs were made possible by Congress’ special $ 3.5 billion child care credit in pandemic stimulus legislation. But this funding has almost disappeared; many child care providers will not be able to cover expenses with the smaller classes demanded by social distancing or reduced demand due to the slow return of many parents to their desks or to child care. children. Childcare facilities whose families do not receive childcare assistance and therefore have not received compensation funds have, in many cases, lost 100% of their income.
We are starting to see some program closures in my state, even as we embark on a still fragile reopening. Meanwhile, other providers across the country are awaiting the end of their state programs or federal funds, or have already seen their businesses collapse as funds run out under hold-to-hold rules. home or because they couldn’t get any of the small business loans at all. .
Put simply, this crisis unfolding in our child care system threatens to undermine our country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as not all parents who have to return to work can find care for their children. children after their provider closes, serve fewer children or are forced to increase school fees.
This is why Congress must act.
Hope, like many childcare companies, has always been in dire financial straits; the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm us completely. Child care providers were poorly paid and parents who often work couldn’t afford to pay more for care. According to Center for American Progress, 51% of Americans lived in a child care desert – where there were not enough providers for the population – even before the pandemic.
Nationally, from 2005 to 2017, the number of licensed small family child care centers declined by almost 50%, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Although the reasons for these closures vary, in at least one state, suppliers cited increased costs of doing business, lack of benefits and simultaneous cuts in subsidies as factors that pushed them to close.
These structural inequalities, caused by chronic underfunding and benign neglect, are now more evident than ever.
A survey of families in Hope found that only 50% of them plan to return to our facility when Connecticut reopens. Such a drop in registrations will result in a deficit of $ 250,000 – a variation of $ 300,000 from the previous year. Without further help, this deficit will prove to be insurmountable for us.
It comes as we face new expenses like the need for personal protective equipment and other supplies to keep staff safe. Persistent cleaning product shortages have strained the ability of suppliers to provide staff with gloves, thermometers and masks.
Another threat is the severe staff shortage, as many teachers report feeling ill-equipped to perform their jobs while remaining safe. Social distancing is, of course, impossible while providing young children and babies with developmentally appropriate education and care – including ensuring their socio-emotional and cognitive development while providing comfort, food and cuddles.
Given all of this, along with new paradigms that are halving the capacity of daycares, many providers calculate that it is not economically viable to continue to operate and have already decided to stay closed permanently.
But if I, too, am forced to close for economic reasons, all my families will find themselves in the scramble. I wonder: will a parent be forced out of the workforce to care for their child – and what will that mean for their family’s economic security? Will they place their child in an unauthorized and dangerous environment? In 2016 and 2017, during a slowdown in available subsidies for child care in Connecticut, the Office of the Children’s Advocate Found that six children died in unregulated day care centers.
This pandemic has exposed how the child care industry serves as the foundation of our economy – but has always been torn by cracks. These new challenges of COVID-19 require a deliberate and sustained federal response; there is no other way to find the $ 50 billion needed to consolidate child care infrastructure over the next six months.
You might argue we can’t afford it, but ask our nation’s doctors, nurses and first responders who looked after their children while they went to work to save lives and the vital role of providers of child care services during the COVID-19 pandemic will become clear. Not paying for child care can only cost our country more than you might imagine.