|Below is what the Foundation's Program and Policy department staff heard after reaching out to nonprofit child care providers to better understand their concerns, challenges and needs to inform our most immediate grantmaking, convening and public policy activities.|
Families are losing a vital in-person support system, as they provide more than just care, they provide food for children and opportunities for parents to connect, resources to help families meet basic needs, and connections to other services.
“Families are calling us because they feel that they need to go to work and their businesses expect them to be there. We did have plans to provide food and other essentials for families coming through the center but that is on hold since we are not open.”
Funding is needed to support wages for the child care workforce, as staffing and benefits are the largest expense for child care centers.
“We are paying staff, but do not know how long we will be able to do this.”
With child care centers closed, families are looking for alternative places for care and often rely on family, and parents may be forced to make difficult choices in the absence of reliable care, including not going to work or school and, in some situations relying on unsafe child care options.
“In some cases, sadly, parents have to leave kids in unsafe situations. A lot of parents we serve are in the service industry, so child care may not be an issue but making money to support the family will be.”
Child care centers are committed to continuing operations as soon as they are able, but are unsure about the long-term impacts this may have on their operations, noting the possibility of losing qualified staff or even having to cease operations
“The big concern is whether they can pull this off as a small organization with a small number of staff. Everybody is going to be dealing with the personal, community, and financial impacts. She just wants to get everybody back to work and get families back in the program.”
“When they can re-open, there is fear about whether staff will come back to something that is uncertain."
The uncertainty of how to operate when they can re-open was felt by many providers, and whether families will be able to afford their care.
“Social distancing cannot happen with children. If they are still promoting social distancing, how will this impact child care centers and numbers at the center. What happens next.”
“Many low-income families have lost their income (restaurant owners)- what if they can’t afford to come back- will funds exist to help them come back and be part of the center.”
Recommendations for Providing Support to Child Care Providers
- Provide funds to purchase food and supplies.
- Provide funds to cover teacher salaries, health care and facility costs and general operating supports.
- Provide information on what leaders can do to support their organization and staff.
- Partner with anchor institutions to assist with understanding and responding the needs in their communities.
- Continue reaching out to non-profits, especially small nonprofits, to understand their situation and provide information to as many people as possible.
- Make sure early childhood education providers are aware of the resources provided via the CARES Act.
- Provide a space for early childhood education providers to come together to share experiences, help other providers fill the gap, help leaders deal with their crisis response.