Today we released a report analyzing the status of early childcare providers in our nine-parish area as the regional economy begins to reopen and the essential function of the childcare sector is brought into stark focus. The report looks at challenges the sector faces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including staffing and capacity restrictions, health and safety considerations, and access to financial resources for recovery. With the ability of working families to return physically to the office depending on safe and reliable childcare, the full recovery of the childcare sector is essential to a broader economic recovery.
Key takeaways include:
- 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.