An analysis by the Center on American Progress suggests that the nation’s child care system could lose millions of child care slots permanently as a result of the pandemic and accompanying recession. In the analysis, Coronavirus Pandemic Could Lead to Permanent Loss of Nearly 4.5 Million Child Care Slots, the authors point to a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) that indicates that only 27 percent of child care providers can survive a closure beyond one month. Like the nation’s school system, child care facilities and providers are closed not just due to the economic shutdown but because the very nature of the service requires close contact with children. Child care is a needed service in many instances for essential workers, including health care providers, store clerks, and others who need to have someone to care for their children while absent from the home. At the same time providers face a drop-off in demand since so many parents are not working.
The Center’s analysis indicates state by state losses ranging from a low of 20 percent and 24 percent in Washington D.C.and Rhode Island respectively to a high of 73 percent and 63 percent in Utah and South Carolina. Among the challenges is the thin margin child care facilities operate under before the pandemic. They balance the same federal and state child care funds to provide as broad a coverage as they can (usually limited to low-income families due to limited funding) while tapping into the same funds to enhance the quality of the care and the salaries of staff that hold college degrees in early childhood education. A majority of these child care providers are eligible for the small business loans but do not have the quick capacity to apply for and receive the Paycheck Protection Program. Congress has provided $3.5 billion in pandemic funding, but that is expected to run short as the recession deepens.