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Childcare Centers Need Longterm Essential Funding

Childcare is a standard living good for the entity of American families.  As more grandparents stay in the workplace longer, the local childcare center is raising the generations of Americans.  Yet, these important centers are deeply affected by the pandemic from shutdowns due to containing the virus to high unemployment from their customers.  The worst issue is many of these childcare centers will not reopen if there are not extensions on their PPP loans or free grants for many of the CDC regulated disinfectant practices.  

Women are  49% of all U.S. workers yet they are 55% of the Covid-19 unemployed and rising.  Sure, they get to be home while the kids are out of school but that isn’t an optional vacation.  Women had finally made the salary gains they’ve worked decades to achieve even decreasing the poverty rate for female-headed households in 2018. That means women’s businesses and women workers are at home so what happens to their childcare network?

The vast majority of the 500,000+ childcare owners, operators, and workers are women as well.  Their median incomes are near the poverty rate at $11.17 an hour with the highest being $16.55 an hour.  Unfortunately, that means we pay the people who watch our most precious gifts, yes our children even if they are driving you crazy while you stay home for months with them, a pittance.  The childcare owners and operators have to keep prices low since people can’t afford it.  The Covd pandemic has led to a perfect storm swallowing these essential services that may not enable women to return to work if we do not find a solution today.

The Paycheck Protection Program only provides loans that last for two months while a business is closed yet schools are not scheduled to reopen until Fall 2020 or later.  If women do not return to work then childcare services can’t reopen or will reopen to a much smaller customer base and a smaller income.  If the economy doesn’t reopen at a fast rate, up to 4.5 million slots at childcare centers will permanently close due to lack of funding and customers.  The solution is to provide PPP grants, not loans since this is an essential service with the ability to guarantee PPP payments for up to 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic from March 2020. 

The PPP grants need to cover more than just payroll and mortgages.  The loans must cover new CDC cleaning and sanitation requirements such as paid cleaning services to disinfect the centers daily.  These services are very expensive and cannot just be pushed onto the already cash strapped customers.  A typical childcare cleaning costs between $400-$1000 a month dependent on rooms, size of the facility, and the immense amount of things that must be cleaned.  Just think if the average facility is in a home, which is true, then every room in the house must be cleaned whether used for childcare or not, yards must be cleaned, beds, cooking area, bathrooms and all the toys.  Our children are should be in the safest and cleanest environment while the pandemic occurs.  They are America’s future.

These two solutions are government based yet childcare is an essential service that all American families use throughout various times in their child’s life.  These centers and families cannot afford the high toll of unemployment blended with long-term shutdowns and new sanitation requirements.  If we want what’s best for the people of this country then it starts with the future generations that will run its government, businesses, and society. 

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