Mass closures of businesses and organizations due to Coronavirus can affect early childcare providers’ survival as small businesses. Parents who cannot work remotely have an acute need for childcare services. Critical personnel in this time of crisis include healthcare and public health workers; grocery store employees; police, fire and other emergency response workers and right now, they are working even more extended hours. These crucial workers require quality, reliable care for their children. Additionally, many workers who keep essential stores and retail establishments open are among the lowest paid and cannot afford to lose days of work due to lack of childcare.
Municipal leaders can support childcare providers and the workers who depend on them by:
- Prioritizing childcare slots for first responders.
- Supporting providers with resources to keep their employees and the children in their care safe.
- Connecting childcare providers to small business and income supports.
Prioritizing childcare slots for first responders
- Childcare providers across the country are being asked to make sure that healthcare workers and first responders have a safe place for their children, so they can do their jobs.
- City officials can encourage childcare centers (including home-based) to stay open whenever possible and that they prioritize the children of healthcare workers and first responders.
- As needed, cities can work with community-based organizations to free up facilities for childcare and ensure they proper supplies/equipment for infection control.
- Such facilities must include procedures for enhanced screening, e.g., evaluate children and staff each day upon entry, and turn away anyone with elevated temperature or multiple health symptoms.
Supporting providers with resources to keep themselves and the children in their care safe
- Cities can work with their states to provide and promote enhanced guidelines for childcare programs, as posted on this State of Maryland webpage.
Connecting childcare providers to small business and income support
- City leaders can work with lead agencies to apply for a waiver to use Child Care & Development Funds (CCDF) to provide direct services to families who do not meet CCDF eligibility requirements and/or providers who do not meet CCDF health and safety requirements.
- Local and state actions to support the sector include:
- Supplemental appropriations for businesses – grants or loans – that target child care providers as an important sector with special consideration.
- Passing along information about state and federal funds available for working capital, etc.
- Local leaders can move to allow child care providers regardless of size or service volume to access funds to support their business — in particular as the sector moves to support healthcare workers. This could be done by modifying or creating loan pools or small business grant programs so these local funds are open to child care providers (including family, friend and neighbor care).
- Local officials can work with states and influence governors to provide additional services to the child care sector (hazard pay, day-to-day expenses, sanitation supplies, and equipment) and first responders.
Local and State Government Examples
- Medford, Oregon – The local YMCA redeployed resources to support children of parents who are healthcare workers, first responders, and vulnerable populations.
- Minnesota and Maryland launched state-wide actions for childcare facilities to stay open.
- North Carolina is considering using schools as childcare facilities.
- Oregon has expanded child care benefits in response to COVID-19.
- Seattle has a small business stabilization fund for businesses with 5 employees or less that are affected by COVID-19.
- Childcare Aware of America- Coronavirus Resources for Child Care Professionals, Families and Policymakers
- Urban Institute – Policies, Practices and Resources for Child Care and Early Education Providers Amid the Coronavirus Crisis.
- Child Care and Preschool Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
- Preparing Child Care Programs for Pandemic Influenza
About the Authors: Tonja Rucker is the Director for Early Childhood Success in the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.
Patrick Hain is the Program Manager for Financial Empowerment in the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.