A shocking fact: 40% of the child care centers in the U.S. say they will be forced to shut down permanently, if they don't receive additional public assistance, according to a survey in July from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
On average, child care centers saw a 67% reduction in enrollment and at the same time incurred increased expenses for sanitation and hygiene supplies. The findings from NAEYC are consistent with the schools we spoke to. Elvia Taylor, owner of the Crossing Borders International Preschool in Houston, says that they were at 60-70% below capacity in the spring and as a result had to lay-off staff. Tara Berhard, the Director of The Learning Experience - West University, saw a slightly lower yet still significant decline of roughly 35%.
This is a crisis that more people should be talking about. Families rely on these centers such as daycares, preschools, after care and enrichment programs to educate their children, but also to facilitate work outside of the home. Without them the effects could be devastating, with parents being forced to scale back or even leave the workforce. And the effect will be worse for working mothers, who are taking on the majority of the caregiving in the wake of school closures, and are faced with the nearly impossible of trying to manage both work and household responsibilities. Their careers and lifetime earnings may never fully recover.
While many of the longer-term solutions involve federal, state and local government intervention, schools and families can and are innovating together to help their communities.
One solution that is gaining traction is virtual school support programs for elementary and middle schoolers hosted by daycares, preschools and other learning centers.
These centers are setting up small-size classrooms (typically 12 students or fewer) where students from area schools can be dropped off, take their virtual classes in a supervised environment and engage in enrichment and safe socialization with other children. This option is a win-win for the community. We’ve talked in previous posts about how new educational solutions like this are a win for families, but it’s also a win for these critical educational centers, to maintain financial viability and be able to retain and pay their staff.
This innovation helps to bring in an additional revenue stream to daycares and preschools, and in some cases is making the difference between losing money and getting to break-even. And frankly, just getting to break-even these days is the goal. Husna Mohammed, the owner of The Goddard School in Cypress, TX which is offering a virtual support program, says that her “main concern is to ensure that everyone is still able to get a paycheck and not have to do any layoffs, while providing peace of mind to families.”
Additionally, some schools and centers, like Crossing Borders International Preschool, are offering new virtual supplement programs to support children who are continuing their virtual learning at home. These programs are great, because they are geography agnostic - meaning you can access them from any city or state. So once you’ve decided on the primary mode of learning for your children, there are a number of supplemental options at your disposal. More to come on this in our upcoming posts!
A special thank you to all the innovators and educators helping to support families!