UC Berkeley research shows CA child care programs in financial danger

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In a survey conducted by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, researchers found that the majority of California’s child care centers and programs are at risk of financial collapse due to coronavirus-related closures.

The survey was conducted over a two-week period from April 13 to 30 and received responses from more than 2,000 facilities throughout the state. Of the respondents, 34% of child care centers and 72% of family child care programs are currently open.

However, the survey shows that 63% of the open programs will not survive another month or longer of closure. Of the currently closed programs, 14% will not survive past May 30.

A majority of the surveyed child care programs have dealt with families being unable to pay for services and with low attendance, which has led to income loss. Of the programs, both open and closed, 78% have made staffing changes, including layoffs and cuts to benefits.

In addition to financial troubles, most child care programs lack adequate personal protective equipment, or PPE, for staff, the survey revealed. According to the survey, 62% of child care programs that are still operating are having difficulties obtaining PPE.

Locally, child care providers are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They told parents they were closing the school during COVID-19 and gave us one month to figure something out,” said Halimah Harden, program director of Berkeley-based Angel Academy Preschool.

The survey concluded that California child care programs are in need of some form of financial relief. Otherwise, the state will see permanent closures of many child care programs after the pandemic.

While the survey does not advocate for an immediate reopening of child care facilities, it does recommend providing a financial stimulus specifically for the child care industry.

“The answer to this financial devastation is not rushing to reopen child care, but providing the financial and health resources that enable programs to be closed and reopen when it is safe to do so,” the study states.

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.