TFC-led Task Force Helps Child Care Providers Navigate Challenging Times
As the response to COVID-19 began in March 2020, TFC was well aware that the child care sector would play an important role in the response and recovery. Given many of the flaws that already existed in our child care sector, TFC was also familiar with the devastating consequences early education programs would likely face.
Understanding the challenges that lay ahead, TFC formed the Early Education COVID-19 Task Force. Beginning in late March, this group of community stakeholders started monitoring supply and demand in the child care sector, created a resource library where providers can access information, and convened providers to promote best practice.
As frightened parents pulled their children out of care at an alarming and unpredictable rate, child care programs suffered significant financial losses. Child care providers have been an essential part of the COVID-19 response by enabling medical professionals and other frontline workers to continue their important work. The majority of providers remained open, even though reduced attendance and added safety precautions put their programs on a path for financial ruin.
By May, roughly 30 percent of the 1,444 metro area programs were closed. By July 1, more than a month after the stay-at-home order was lifted, 20 percent of area programs remained closed. Several of these programs have reported that they do not plan to reopen, but what these numbers fail to capture is that nearly every program in the metro continues to suffer financial losses from reductions in enrollment.
As we move forward with the recovery process and more parents ease back into their regular work routines, we will need a strong and stable child care sector. We cannot count on providers to continue to make sacrifices, despite low wages and little to no resources. The taskforce continues to support early educators, and is advocating for financial support to keep the sector afloat.
To further create awareness, The Family Conservancy will be delivering yard signs to every metro-area child care provider. This campaign will build on the effort to increase awareness of the vital role child care plays in our community, the recovery from COVID-19, and recruit participants in TFC’s advocacy efforts.