As families across the nation continue to grapple with financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, many are faced with an additional hardship: paying for childcare services they aren’t actually receiving.
Many state governments have mandated the closure of childcare centers — except for those exclusively servicing essential workers. And despite these closures, there are some daycares and preschools who require families to continue paying tuition in their child’s absence. In some cases, they’re requiring 100 percent tuition while others are asking families to pay 50 to 75 percent of school fees to keep spots secured for the future.
The unpopular policy has received mixed reviews from members of various parenting support groups. While some are understanding of the fact that owners of childcare centers must take certain measures to keep themselves afloat in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, other families are troubled by the fact that they’re paying for childcare while simultaneously trying to balance working from home and looking after their kids.
A survey recently conducted by Working Mother found that between 73 and 80 percent of families surveyed are continuing to pay out of fear that their child will lose his or her daycare slot once government lockdowns are lifted. And some continue to do so happily as they recognize that their kids’ teachers still have bills to pay.
Some centers that continue to receive tuition from families have adopted a form of remote learning and are sending parents lists of activities are other educational materials for students to engage with while they are home.
Sadly, not all families have this option. The same survey found that approximately 25 percent of families are surrendering their spots because they simply cannot afford to foot the bill anymore as a result of layoffs and other hardships.
And then, there are those lucky families who are not required to pay tuition at all during this difficult time.
Of course, childcare providers are not having the easiest time either. Shawnna Lance, who runs a center out of her home, has all but two families who continue to bring their children amidst the crisis. Lance told Fast Company that she takes extreme measures — including deep cleaning before and after the school day — to ensure the safety of herself, the children, and her mother, who falls into a high-risk category.
“We wash hands as soon as the kids come in. We check temperatures. My mother is in the at-risk category, so that is definitely a little concerning. Nobody wants to get this. It sounds awful.”
Thankfully for Lance, some of her families have volunteered to pay even though they’ve decided to keep their little ones home due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I work with such great families,” Lance shared. “They’ve all paid for the next month fully. And all of them have reached out and told me, ‘We really appreciate you, and we don’t want you to get hit because we’ve decided to keep our kids home.’ So I feel super lucky that the parents are aware of the fact that I need to make a living too.”
How are you coping with childcare-related issues as a result of government lockdowns?