The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the nation’s child care system. Many providers had to close due to stay-at-home orders that kept families away.
Now, as those restrictions are being lifted, parents going back to work are having trouble finding child care.
“No child care, no recovery. Families are going to experience tremendous barriers in returning back to work.” — Lynette Fraga, CEO of Child Care Aware of America
Wayne County has roughly 1,000 day care providers. Only about 10% of them are open, according to Chalkbeat Detroit, which reviewed data from the United Way of Southeast Michigan.
Dr. Lynette Fraga is the CEO of Child Care Aware of America. She says 30 to 50 percent of the nation’s child care providers might have to close permanently. She says the biggest obstacle they face is the costs related to the pandemic.
Click on the audio player to hear Pat Batcheller’s conversation with Lynette Fraga
“It’s expensive to provide child care,” Fraga says. “The necessity for increased personal protective equipment, sanitizing and cleaning supplies and smaller group sizes are all critically important to keep children and their teachers safe, but also much more expensive.”
More money would help. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress included $3.5 billion dollars for the child care industry. Fraga says it’ll take a lot more than that.
“What we’re looking at is the need for $50 billion to keep child care providers afloat,” Fraga says. “We are fortunately seeing some bipartisan momentum in Congress to support child care relief.”
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) has introduced the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, which calls on Congress to spend $10 billion in 2021 to help providers. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) sponsored a resolution calling for $25 billion in emergency relief for the child care industry.
Fraga says without adequate funding, many child care centers will never come back, putting families — and the economy — in a real bind.
“No child care, no recovery,” she says. “Families are going to experience tremendous barriers in returning back to work.”