April 13, 2020
No matter how low the pay, or how challenging or difficult a typical day might be, there have always been luminaries who provide the excellent early care and education services that all children deserve. Even as the country faces an unprecedented virus ravaging and destroying industries, economies and daily routines, these truly essential workers provide a critical service that ensures the viability of our workforce.
“Child Care Providers are the Unsung Heroes in this Battle for Survival”
They may not work in the medical field or the police department, but they risk infection every day that they work. If you are nodding your head and asking yourself whether or not child care is an essential service, just ask the parents that are doctors, grocery clerks or bankers, utility workers or truck drivers. These professionals will tell you that they would not be able to perform their critically needed work without it. And, for all parents, knowing that your child is safe, healthy and happy is the peace of mind that parents need to focus on their job and be productive.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the desperate need for child care as thousands of providers are forced to close their doors leaving many parents desperate to find safe, affordable child care so that they can to go to work. Parents working in low-wage jobs are especially impacted and have no choice as they have to work to meet their family’s basic needs. The current early care and education system, which has already been struggling to meet the child care needs of working families, is being stretched to the limit by this crisis.
There are many reasons why, in this current climate, a provider may have to discontinue operations – from an aging workforce that needs to shelter in place to declining enrollments of both public and private pay clients to not being able to afford the rent on the center you just leased. And, because child care providers already operate on razor-thin financial margins, extended closures are likely put them out of business permanently. According to a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 30% of providers would have to shut down permanently if forced to close for two weeks or more.
Over the past few weeks, our Child Care Referral Counselors have contacted hundreds of providers across Los Angeles County and we have confirmed that they are struggling. Struggling to pay their staff, struggling to open their homes and centers to new families that need care, struggling to find and purchase food, diapers and cleaning supplies. Providers say the crisis is bringing to light what they’ve been saying for years – that while their services are absolutely critical to keep the economy going, their extremely low wages and lack of labor protections leave them helpless in a crisis such as COVID-19.
Child care providers partner with parents to raise their children. They provide the necessary love and affection, attention, and encouragement young people need to develop and grow into successful adults. If you employ the services of a child care provider, whether in a center or a home, I ask that you be humble and respectful of the “additional parent” that contributes to your child’s well-being.
If you are a child care provider, I thank you. I appreciate the millions of lives that you shape through your extraordinary and dedicated service. And, I’m here for you – advocating, campaigning and supporting the important work you do. You are our first and last line of defense in this battle to keep our future generations safe, healthy and happy!
Michael Olenick, PhD
President & CEO
Child Care Resource Center