Opinion: Help Child Care Providers. They are Essential in Pandemic and Beyond

Opinion: Help Child Care Providers. They are Essential in Pandemic and Beyond

By: Mindy Binderman for AJC

As the world copes with an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, we are also in the midst of a child care crisis. State and federal leaders must act quickly to support essential workers in need of child care and provide critical financial support to our state’s child care providers if we are to maintain a supply of safe, quality care during this urgent time and into the future.  

Doctors, nurses, and other medical workers are on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Personnel with child care needs must now figure out how to cope as most of the nation’s schools, and many of its child care programs, close for the foreseeable future.

The health care sector has some of the highest child care obligations in the United States, and a recent study estimates that single parents constitute 7% of the health care workforce. Other essential workers like grocery and pharmacy employees, first responders, and delivery personnel face a similar dilemma as they continue to work full-time and care for children.  

Meanwhile, the majority of reporting child care providers—over 1,000 across the state—have closed, and more closures might be on the horizon as additional measures are taken to stop the spread of the virus.

In a recent survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 30% of child care providers said they would have to shut their doors permanently if they had to close longer than two weeks without significant public investment, and 16% said they couldn’t last more than a month. In starker terms, we could lose nearly half of our country’s child care capacity by mid-April without government support.