With or without a pandemic, child care is an essential service. Many families could not go to work. Doctors, firemen, police, grocery store workers, government employees and more. Let’s not forget that the first five years are incredibly important, as 90% of the brain develops during this time. Quality child care is crucial.
But during this unprecedented time, where families are laid off, on unemployment or working from home, child care costs might be the first thing families choose to cut.
Don’t do it.
But my child is staying home with me, you might say. Here’s why you should continue to pay your tuition.
Child Care isn’t a money maker
If you thought it was, I am here to dispel that myth. Truth is there is very little profit for centers. Taking care of children is a field that one has to be passionate about. No one goes into this field expecting to make a large paycheck at the end of each week. But, they do expect to make a difference in the lives of the children and families they work with.
Many centers charge tuition regardless of attendance. This is to hold your spot in the program. Centers have a certain capacity. When your child fills that spot, no one else can use it. This is why you pay for that spot.
The rules and expectations for child care is extensive. Quality is not cheap. The majority of centers want to provide the very best for their teachers, classrooms and children. They strive to provide quality care, great work environments and the best supplies. This all costs money.
Centers aren’t sitting on large savings accounts. Not even the big box ones. Most centers probably have between 2-3 weeks or 4-6 weeks they could survive on, at best. We are also learning that there is no insurance policy that will cover a pandemic. Some centers that have closed and experience “business interruption” don’t even have coverage.
Teachers and staff
It’s hard enough finding great staff without a pandemic. Many centers have teachers refusing to come to work. We are fortunate to have amazing teachers that want to not only want to work, but also maintain consistency for the children. It is important to all of us to keep things normal for the kids.
These teachers deserve to be paid (and more!). Not only are they providing care during a very scary time, but many are now creating virtual content. In order to help our families stay connected, teachers and administrators are taking the classroom and putting it online for children in quarantine. This is above and beyond a teacher’s normal job description.
Administrators are navigating through unprecedented waters. They are creating contingency plans, follow new state guidelines that change almost daily and ensuring the health and safety of children and staff. If you think you are stressed about finding toilet paper and milk, imagine finding it for 60 children or more.
the future of child care
The future of many businesses are on the line. Even the largest chain of theaters, AMC, is in danger. They may not even be able to reopen. Child care centers are facing the same dilemma. Many have closed down in hope of opening quickly. Many are continuing to pay their teachers. But in order to pay staff, they must collect tuition. Tuition is what pays insurance, rent, utilities, and staff. These costs don’t go away because COVID-19 came to town. When centers collect tuition, even though they are closed or your child isn’t attending, it’s because they are fighting for the future of the center. They want there to be a center for your child to come back to.
When this pandemic is behind us, many centers will not recover. This means less openings for children. Centers that make it through these tough times will have more families in need of their services. Losing your spot at your current center means risking not getting it back and potentially not being able to find a new one.
What You can do
This is a hard time for everyone. You are probably stressed and anxious. It’s during this time we should all be mindful. What can you do ? Your child care provider is an important person in your life. They are taking care of your precious child. Your child is important and loved by them. So, when they expect tuition to be paid, pay it. If you truly are struggling, talk TO them. Go to your administrator and see what can be done.
Be a part of your child care center’s community. Join the online groups, attend the Zoom calls, visit their FaceBook business page. Connect how ever you can with your center’s teachers and staff. They want to be there to support you.
Be sure to let your provider know you appreciate them!