While health care workers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, who’s taking care of their children?
A Yale University study shows almost 3.5 million children of people who work in the American health care industry need some kind of child care while their parents are at work. The report also shows there are about 1.3 million employed child care providers, not including teachers and other education specialists.
“These national heroes are doing this front line work, and their children need to be safe and healthy, too.” — Dr. Lynette Fraga, Child Care Aware of America
In Michigan, the number of employed child care providers is about a quarter of the number of children needing care. In Metro Detroit, the ratio is about the same.
Congress recently approved $3.5 billion dollars to shore up the child care system during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s going to take a lot more than that, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Child Care Aware of America.
Click on the player to hear Pat Batcheller’s conversation with Lynette Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America.
Executive Director Lynette Fraga, Ph. D., says the child care system was already struggling before the pandemic.
“If those small businesses can’t stay afloat, there may not be a child care system to go back to,” she warns.
The federal CARES Act makes it possible for child care providers to apply for loans and grants. But Fraga says Congress must do more to support child care workers, many of whom are low-paid.
“The average compensation is about $20,000 a year,” Fraga says. “And oftentimes, they don’t have benefits to support themselves and their families.”
Child Care Aware of America is asking lawmakers to pass a $50 billion dollar stimulus package for the child care industry.
The group is also recommending that if a child care program is forced to close, it should receive public and private support to cover operating costs and pay employee wages.
Fraga says all workers need access to paid sick days, as well as paid medical and family leave, so that they can go to work without worrying about who’s taking care of their children.