During this time of great uncertainty, the child care industry and those who rely upon it are facing a particularly serious challenge. Many working parents across the country are scrambling to find alternative child care arrangements as schools and many child care providers have closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
While first responders, healthcare workers, essential retail and municipal workers, military, and others are on the front lines providing the crucial services our country needs right now, child care providers are needed to provide a critical second-line support through child care.
According to a new interactive map developed by Yale University, health care workers in the U.S. have over 3.5 million children. These children need care in order for health care workers to respond to COVID-19, but 2.3 million of these children have no obvious child care providers available in the home.
Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), a national membership-based nonprofit organization working to advance a high-quality, affordable child care system, is looking to the government for assistance. While appreciative of the recently passed federal stimulus package which will provide short-term relief, additional funding for child care will be needed.
“This down payment of $3.5 billion, if distributed quickly, will provide much-needed help to the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies across the country that are currently working overtime to support the families of emergency and essential workers, the child care providers who are dealing with decisions to close or stay open, and the rapidly adapting system,” said Dr. Lynette Fraga, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of America.
“But if we are serious about providing child care for our health care, emergency and other essential workers who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and ensuring there is a child care system at the end of this national emergency, we need more help,” she added.
CCAoA is urging Congress to provide at least $50 billion in child care funding to states, via stimulus legislation, and recommends the following:
- If your local school district or state has taken action to close K-12 schools, that all child care programs should also close, with the exception of programs serving essential and emergency personnel (to be defined by your state or locality). However, it’s imperative that the decision to close child care programs be tied to public and private support to pay for all operations and employee wages while they are closed. CCAoA has developed a flowchart adapted from the CDC’s guidelines for K-12 schools to help determine whether child care facilities should stay open or close in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Support back-up child care, especially for emergency and essential workers, and fund programs to help parents or caregivers in need to continue to make co-payments or pay tuition.
- Dedicated funding for child care providers to purchase supplies to sanitize and clean facilities.
- ALL workers need access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, as well as compensation during closures and work stoppages, especially for small businesses.
These measures will help ensure that children, educators, workers and families are healthy and safe; emergency responders, health care providers and other essential personnel can go to work without worrying about who is taking care of their children; family child care homes and child care centers can stay in business; members of the early childhood education workforce will receive the financial security they need; and states have the resources to respond to rapidly changing needs and emergency closures.