BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of child care providers had to shut their doors. But with communities reopening, providers are still struggling.
"Many will not actually be able to reopen without assistance," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Senator Gillibrand is calling for a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund to support providers struggling to stay open, with limited revenue due to the pandemic.
She said economic estimates found the child care industry will need $9.6 billion a month to operate, and make sure those who had to close are able to stay in business and reopen.
"For every one dollar invested in child care, $1.86 is derived in economic return. More than for retail or construction," said Sheri Scavone, Executive Director of WNY Women's Foundation.
Without assistance, the industry could lose four million child care slots.
"Here in New York, that would meant that the availability of child care could drop from one slot for every four children, to one slot for every eight," said Senator Gillibrand.
This could keep countless parents from going back to work.
"It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Prior to COVID my children had a village, including a day care center, an elementary school and after-school programs," said Ann Nichols, a parent and an attorney. "These activities and providers made up an elaborate child care network that allowed both my husband and I to work full-time."
"I'm frustrated at the lack of support, the lack of supplies and the lack of financial resources. And I'm sad for the staff that I've lost in my employment during this pandemic, and for the parents crying in my office because they can't afford child care," said Beth Starks, Executive Director of Chautauqua Lake Child Center.
Another issue providers said they face is CDC guidelines to safely reopen.
Senator Gillibrand said she sent a letter to the CDC to work directly with child care providers and address their concerns.
Child care providers are requesting that the CDC:
- Provide clarification about the disparities between CDC's guidelines and state guidelines.
- Offer additional information about how to use the safety protocols, like face shields and social distacning, and how they will impact interaction with children.
- Consider the need for continuing of care when recommending alternating days, half days and other reduced schedules.