Day cares, preschools and child-care providers nationwide are facing a tough road as they attempt to provide safe, quality care to children while navigating the ever-changing challenges posed to their businesses. And experts say that many providers may not make it.
“We’re going to lose a lot of child care at a time when we really need it,” says Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America. “If workers are unable to find child care, they’re not going to be able to go back to work — and that is problematic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines that encourage providers to establish smaller class sizes, equip staff with appropriate protective gear, increase sanitation routines, provide training for teachers and facility employees and attempt to put social distancing procedures into place.
“There is expense associated with all of that,” Fraga says. “Sanitizing equipment costs money,” she says, adding that the lower ratio of children to teachers and smaller group sizes have “flipped the business model upside down on its head.”
In fact, American families regularly pay over $11,000 a year to send their infant to a child-care center, about $10,000 for toddlers and over $9,000 for four-year-olds, according to Child Care Aware of America’s 2019 report.
“We’re really at a tough place,” Fraga says. “There are a lot of unknowns on the horizon. So it’s important that the U.S. really pay attention to what it’s going on take and be willing to invest and support child-care providers. It’s not just about the safety and development of children,” Fraga says, “it’s an economic equation, too.”