Six months after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, school closures continue to be an issue. Like corporations, educational institutions also decided to hold remote classes to reduce the risks of viral transmission. Several daycare centers are also closed down, in consideration for the children’s health.
However, this is both good and bad news for parents and childcare providers. Good because efforts are increased to minimize the spread of the virus, and bad because working from home while caring for preschool children is arduous. Childcare providers, on the other hand, worry about their income because of the drop in enrollees.
How the Pandemic Affects Children
A lot of children may be confused that their parents have stopped leaving home for work. They may also be wondering why they’ve ceased attending daycare.
Like you, your kids are also entitled to the information. But COVID-19 may be too complicated for them to understand. Hence, find out what your child already knows by asking them age-appropriate questions.
For example: “Do you know about the sickness going around?” That will draw out information and questions from them, letting you hear what they think about the current situation.
If your kid doesn’t seem interested to talk about the pandemic, don’t press them. Just share relevant details little by little, like their schools or daycare closing. They may worry about contracting the virus if you talk about their school, though, so reassure them that they’ll be safe, as long as they stay home and eat healthily.
Also, if you don’t know an answer to their question, don’t be afraid to say so. Use that as a chance to research together with your child. While you’re at it, you can read the guidelines quality childcare services (that remain open) should follow.
Concerns of Childcare Providers
Many childcare providers have expressed their worries about the pandemic. Those that continue to accept enrollees stated that they do so because their clients are essential workers, and hence unable to stay at home to care for their children. Furthermore, some work-from-home parents have employers that don’t understand the difficulty of watching kids while working. Thus, childcare providers continue to serve them despite risking their own health.
Daycare centers that closed down have concerning sentiments, too. Because of the drop in enrollees, their employees would require fiscal relief, and the daycare owners themselves need to make ends meet as well. Some cannot afford health insurance, and others can’t even put food on the table.
A childcare provider from Arlington, VA, stressed about being considered an essential worker, yet receiving no benefits. As a result, they’re struggling to support their own families.
Emergency help is also being sought out. Some daycare centers that used to have over 20 kids only got as low as four during the pandemic. In turn, they needed to make up for their employees’ lost wages. There are no longer subsidies paid to centers for absent children.
How to Support Childcare Providers
The federal government has programs meant to support childcare providers during this time. The CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020, involves a Paycheck Protection Program. Such provides loan guarantees to small business owners, like daycare owners, to cover the payroll costs of workers who are forced to stay at home.
The program also established a refundable, 50% payroll tax credit, which covers up to $10,000, and paid per employee. That includes the benefits from March 13, 2020, to December 31, 2020.
Over 35 national organizations also wrote to Congress, requesting emergency funding for childcare providers. The letter tackles the necessary financial support and other related concerns.
We may still have a long way to go before beating COVID-19, but with unending support for one another and a call for appropriate help and service, childcare providers and the families they serve can navigate these trying times with better security.