Recognizing the importance of quality, affordable child care, the Chamber’s Board of Directors recently voted to support a $50 billion federal assistance package for the child care industry. The Child Care is Essential Act would create a fund for additional costs of providing child care due to the pandemic. Grants would be equitably distributed to eligible child care centers, home based providers, and family child care homes. The bill recently passed in the U.S. House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
In a recent survey conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 40% of the child care providers that responded expected to close permanently without assistance. Enrollment was down by an average of 67% at centers as parents are concerned about their children’s safety, reducing income. Despite lower enrollment, costs have increased substantially due to the need for additional staff to keep groups limited, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment.
Access to quality child care and early childhood education was an issue for parents and employers in the region before the crisis began. Statewide workforce studies show that lack of child care options causes disruptions in work schedules, and prevents parents from seeking full-time employment. The Chamber is a founding member of the Early Learning Investment Committee of Columbia and Montour Counties to raise awareness of the importance of high quality early learning and encourage cooperative investment to provide additional opportunities for families.