BRAC today released a report analyzing the status of early childcare providers in the nine-parish Capital Region as the area’s economy begins to reopen and the essential function of the childcare sector is brought into stark focus. The report is available at brac.org/reports.
“Our survey highlights that while the sector faces the same barriers as many other small businesses, a shocking proportion of centers have not accessed forgivable government-backed loan programs,” said Liz Smith, BRAC senior vice president for economic competitiveness. “This essential sector runs on very tight margins, and helping these small businesses access financial and other support immediately is critical to our community’s economic recovery.”
The report analyzes the myriad of challenges facing the sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including staffing and capacity restrictions, health and safety considerations, and access to financial resources for recovery.
Key takeaways from BRAC’s report are:
- On average, centers opening in Phase One have reduced capacity by 40% from the maximum number they are allowed to enroll, potentially leaving 3,669 children without care;
- Fifteen percent of centers reported employees’ reluctance to return to work, either because of generous unemployment benefits or concerns about COVID-19 exposure, as the primary barrier to reopening;
- Lack of sufficient space to keep children and staff distanced was reported as the primary barrier to reopening by 14 percent of centers;
- Nearly 75 percent of centers report that they will need to hire, on average, four new or additional staff to address ratio requirements and replace staff that would not or could not return to work;
- All but one of the 60 percent of centers that closed during the pandemic plan to reopen, though they are unsure when;
- Nearly 40 percent of centers have not applied for a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan; and
- Centers have applied for over $3.5 million in federal and state funding, with 54 of the 86 applicants receiving funds to date.
While a single solution doesn’t exist to alleviate barriers facing childcare providers, additional space, staffing, and targeted financial guidance could improve the sector’s operational outlook. BRAC will remain engaged on the issue as the reopening process progresses.
BRAC is regularly updating brac.org/recovery with business resources and guidance related to COVID-19.