Alexandria, VA – Early education and child care centers both large and small are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. At least 20 states have ordered child care closures or modified regulations to protect children and child care workers from coronavirus. Many of these centers, with shrinking enrollments or a lack of income altogether, may not survive without additional federal and state support. State boards of education have a role to play in advocating for support of child care providers during this difficult time and ensuring the continuity of high-quality early care and education after the crisis subsides, says NASBE Director of Early Learning Winona Hao in a new policy update.
Hao argues that the CARES Act funding earmarked for early care centers may not be enough. Efforts are under way to advocate for more, but states like Vermont, California, North Carolina, and New Mexico have also taken actions to support child care providers through state subsidies, bailouts, hazard pay, and paying health insurance premiums for uninsured workers testing positive for COVID-19. In Massachusetts and Colorado, policymakers have established emergency child care programs for first responders and other essential workers needing child care while schools are closed.
As states make plans to reopen schools and child care centers, questions around finance, social distancing, sanitizing, educator health and well-being, food, hazard pay, how best to serve disadvantaged children, and the social and emotional well-being of children must all be weighed.
State boards can help ensure plans are informed by stakeholders and communicated and coordinated across the many agencies and groups that serve young children to ensure their uninterrupted learning and support. “Without the proper planning and preparation, providers will close their schools for good,” Hao says.
Read Supporting Child Care Providers amid COVID-19.
NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.