What to Know
- Many child care centers across South Florida are locked and empty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- A new study states that a little more than half of these centers could cease operations due to the impact of COVID-19.
- Some centers are planning on reopening with several restrictions.
As South Florida begins the slow process of re-opening businesses after the COVID-19 shutdown, there are concerns the child care industry might not completely come back, leaving thousands of parents scrambling for help.
A new report by public policy research and advocacy group Center For American Progress (CAP) says, without federal funding, 56% of Florida's child care facilities could be lost.
Gauging the potential impact in South Florida is difficult. Currently, many of the child care centers in South Florida are locked and empty. Calls and emails from NBC 6 to multiple centers have not been answered.
At Bumble Bee Daycare and Learning Center near Zoo Miami, owner Naydy Calderin said, “we have been closed for six weeks and it’s been difficult.” But Bumble Bee plans to open Monday following CDC guidelines.
A March survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) questioned more than 6,000 child care providers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Thirty percent said they would not survive a closure of more than two weeks without significant public investment.
Seventeen percent said they would not survive a closure of any amount of time without support.
CAP analyzed the NAEYC study and took that data one step further saying, without federal funding 419,633 licensed child care slots could be lost in Florida. Nationwide, 49% of child care slots could disappear.
On March 27th the Trump Administration announced the release of $3.5 billion in aid to states specifically for child care providers that serve children who receive child care subsidies. The money would help them stay open or reopen after the shutdown. It would also help with child care for essential, front-line workers.
CAP says at least $50 billion is needed to prevent the losses.
Currently, Florida Day Care facilities that have remained open to care for the children of essential workers must follow strict guidelines which include; intensified cleaning and disinfection, modified drop-off and pick-up procedures, children can only be in groups of 10 including the care worker, groups cannot mix, and social distancing must be performed.
Wisdom Early Education Center in North Miami Beach is closed now but planning to reopen as soon as possible. Director Mabel Zerquera told NBC 6 figuring out a social distancing protocol is difficult with children, but they are developing a plan and hope to be supporting families again.