Diana Limongi says she is heartbroken.
“So I’m here in my daughter’s kindergarten, and that’s it. You know, they close, ”Limongi said, picking up things for her 3-year-old daughter from her now closed Kindergarten, “Everything is empty there. Beautiful place and both of my children went here. So I’m very, very sad. ”
Lemons and many working parents learn first-hand the harsh reality – coronavirus The pandemic puts the national childcare industry on the brink of collapse.
This is a major concern for millions of working parents. If you need to return to the office and your kindergarten is closed, what are you doing? Experts say this is a key element of the puzzle US economic recovery,
“Childcare is now in crisis,” said Myra Jones Taylor, chief politician at Zero to Three, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the developmental needs of children and toddlers.
Throughout the country, nearly half of childcare providers completely closed their facilities during COVID-19 stops. according to the survey National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Of those who remain open, 85% operate on less than half of their regular children.
MORE: Parents worry about school, about childcare opportunities when they have to return to work
The prospects for the development of the industry are gloomy: Center for American Progress Analysis found that approximately half of US childcare opportunities are endangered.
“Under no circumstances will an economy be able to fully open up without the support and stability of childcare,” Taylor told ABC News.
“People are talking about the airline industry. They talk about restaurants. They talk about meat processing plants. But they don’t talk about all the people who go to work every day and need child care, ”said Sen. Patti Murray, D-Wash.
$ 2 trillion CARES ActThe federal COVID-19 assistance package, which includes nearly $ 60 billion for the aviation industry, but only $ 3.5 billion has been allocated to child care providers.
Murray told ABC News that this is not good enough.
“Most (child care providers) say that we cannot survive, we cannot open, we cannot continue to work without additional funding,” Murray said.
Calling herself the only former US Senate preschool teacher, Murray introduced legislation that sent $ 50 billion in federal funding for childcare.
“I just tell my colleagues, just ask any friend, do you have children? What is their main problem now? And that’s all, ”she said.
Child care centers are expensive to operate. Experts say that they already work with very thin margins, and some often take enough to cover their operating costs. Most do not have a rainy day fund for such a crisis. Now add the extra cost to the new normal in coronavirus Pandemic: personal protective equipment, disinfectant, deep cleanings.
Parents, such as the Limons, who are currently struggling for childcare, say the federal government should step up work and help working families.
“We do not have childcare. We cannot work. It’s that simple, ”she said.
Circle Time is a kindergarten in Kensington, Maryland. During COVID-19 stops, it remained open because it serves the main workers. But their recruitment ranged from 78 children to one child.
Owner Gigi Serrano says the key reason she can stay afloat is that each family pays the full tuition for April, and some still pay half, even if their children are at home.
“We sent out an email asking parents to pay whatever they could. To keep their place if they don’t come, ”Serrano told ABC. “Again, some of our families were incredible. Some even paid extra. And I feel that this was supposed to help families who might not have been able to make such a big contribution. ”
Melissa Joy’s two sons returned to Circle Time after spending three months at home. She says that she had a lot of discussions with other parents about how to support the center.
“They were always with us. We try to be with them, ”said Joy.
Serrano says that so far she has not been forced to lay off employees by crediting the loan she received as part of the federal government’s salary protection program.
But Circle Time staff were more fortunate than most — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1/3 of childcare workers have been laid off since March.
One of the victims was Marta Rodriquez, who worked as a bilingual assistant at a preschool in Renton, Washington.
“You know, I’m not sure that I will return to work soon, because I’m not the most important, important person in the class,” said Rodriquez.
More than 90% of the 1.2 million childcare workers in the country are women. Some experts say this is a key reason why the industry is underestimated and taken for granted.
“This is what people simply assume will always be there,” said Katie Hamm, vice president of early childhood policy at the Center for American Progress.
History has shown that sometimes it takes a crisis to force Washington to reconsider its priorities.
“I think that we have had a dual attitude towards childcare in this country for so long. We can no longer do this. We must treat this as a public good, ”said Zero to Trailor.
Serrano, owner of Circle Time in Maryland, says she is feeling fine right now, but wonders how long her business can go on without assistance.
“Probably, everything will be fine with us until September. But after that, everything will depend, ”she said. “How many of our families are still able to work?” How many of them can still contribute to holding a seat? ”
“It’s a long time,” she adds. For a long time, asking families to contribute when there really is no actual end date. ”
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Coronavirus takes American childcare industry to the brink of collapse – lawyers originally appeared on abcnews.go.com