I know the title sounds a bit dramatic but in all sincerity, this is a strong possibility. Across our nation and within individual states, child care is predominantly comprised of small businesses. Between 70-80% of a child care program’s expenses goes toward staff salaries. For most child care centers, 100% of their revenue comes from tuition paid by parents.
Over the last two years, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, child care was already struggling due to a staffing shortage. In order to comply with licensing requirements for maximum capacity and teacher-to-child ratios, many centers had waitlists for families who needed care because they were unable to recruit qualified staff. In September 2019, at the start of the school year, Kids Co. had 117 kids on a waitlist caused by the staffing shortage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust our nation’s and Washington State’s child care systems into an even more precarious situation. While parents are not working, many centers are closed and not generating any income, if they are able to pay their staff, they won’t be able to for long. Keeping child care staff on the payroll is critically important if we, as a community comprised of working individuals, many of them parents, need child care to go back to work when “stay home” orders are loosened or lifted.
Without a direct investment by foundations, corporations, donors, the federal government, and Washington State, to actual child care programs so they can continue paying the bills – staff wages and benefits, rent, utilities, insurance, etc. – many centers won’t be able to reopen to provide care because their businesses have become one of the many casualties of the Coronavirus.
You can help save child care by:
- Donating to your local child care program
- Talk to program staff you know in foundations to inform them of this child care crisis and the need for financial support
- Asking your employer to donate to your child care so you can return to work when it’s safe to do so
- Contacting your local, state, and federal elected officials to save child care with a significant investment of funds