The COVID-19 crisis has elevated the importance of child care, and sparked confusion and questions as programs are closed, trying to decide how to stay open or whether to close.
A child care center leader in Prince George’s County wrote the letter below to Governor Hogan highlighting specific concerns shared by so many across our community.
March 15, 2020
Hello Governor Hogan,
I am a program director at a community-based child care program located in District 47 of Hyattsville, Maryland. I have been reading several responses to what needs to happen referring to the State of Emergency that was recently placed on Maryland.
This State of Emergency required the public school system to shut down for two weeks in hopes to stop or reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Although Maryland State Division of Education (MSDE) gave child care providers the option to close or remain open, it left several of my colleagues in a state of panic with a lack of leadership on what procedures and policies that need to be followed.
At our center since we are located inside of a church building, we had to close due to the church closing the doors of the entire building. Although we understand the importance of closing our doors in order to adhere to the state of emergency, our parents are forced to find additional child care arrangements while still having to pay tuition at our center. This action will leave several of our families underwater!
We have to continue to charge our families because we will still have to maintain rent, teacher salaries, utilities, etc. in order to maintain our small business. However, this should not be! Community-based, private, and/or family child care programs have little to no backing from the government to ensuring that our centers can function in the event of a crisis like this. Realistically speaking, our center understands that most of our families will not be able to pay us tuition in the event this world crisis lasts longer than two weeks.
We are concerned that we will not have the means to operate our center upon arriving back after the state of emergency has been lifted. Will the government be able to subsidize centers in the event that families will not have the funds?
As a parent myself, I understand the frustration that our families are presently going through. They have to pay for services not rendered. I strongly urge that the state provide financial assistance to ease the burden on families. Our teachers are proud, loving, and passionate educators that ensure each child in their classroom are reaching their developmental milestones by providing age-appropriate lessons. Day in and out our teachers demonstrate how important their work is by caring for their children and families while receiving a salary that requires them to get on government assistance.
The field of early childhood is a field that desperately needs the respect and honor that we are not shown. Our families love and adore us (as we do them), but cannot afford any more fees or paying higher tuition costs while our teachers are severely underpaid and overworked.
However, child care workers will continue to be resilient and passionate because in our field we do not have room for error. Our children must receive high quality care to ensure that their education aids in them developing in a manner that sets them up to be successful in school and later on in life. As a parent, child care director, active child advocate, and member of my community, I urge you to hear our concerns and needs in order to partner with us to develop strategies that will be beneficial to our children, families, and last but most certainly not least, our educators.
Stephanie M. Lawson, MS Ed
Loving 2 Learn Program Director