ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Hundreds of child care centers across Maryland have closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Thousands more are at risk of permanent closure, living on razor-thin margins as they turn to state legislators for help.
That is the predicament Ruth Claytor knows all too well.
Claytor is the owner of Granny Annie Childcare & Learning Center, which has been operating in Pasadena for 18 years. She said the suddenness of the pandemic had put a huge strain on her business.
“In the meantime (federal loans), I had to put down $20,000 of my own money — actually, it was my mother’s money — to keep my business going because I couldn’t make the payments. salary,” she said. “We’re going to have to close.”
Claytor said Granny Annie’s had 63 kids enrolled and even more on the waiting list as the pandemic hit. That number dropped to just 14 children after she reopened. She said her staff of teachers had been reduced from 13 to 11, and that the teachers who were stuck around were all burned.
“Teachers are being stretched because of workforce shortages, not just in our region but across the country,” says Claytor.
Charging extra for services is not an option for Claytor, who said the parents she serves have difficulty making ends meet without any extra costs.
Christina Peusch, executive director of the Maryland State Child Care Association, said parents in Maryland pay a heavy price for childcare.
“They pay 7% of their income, and Marylanders are paying more than 30% of their income for childcare,” she said.
Peusch, an advocate for childcare centers, said the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act and other statutes have helped, but for many, the money has come too late.
In Maryland, there were 8,000 child care facilities as of early 2020. Since then, more than 700 have closed, leaving the state with about 7,200 centers left.
State Controller Peter Franchot heard these concerns during a hearing held Wednesday afternoon. He said the state couldn’t figure out how to get federal money into the hands of small businesses.
Franchot called the Maryland Department of Education “underperforming,” saying childcare workers are the unsung heroes of the pandemic and should be treated accordingly.
“Without childcare, there is no real economy,” says Franchot. “We have to have people working so we can take care of their families.”
Some childcare centers want to see regulatory changes, such as some leniency measures for hiring due to staffing shortages. They want their workers to enjoy state benefits such as medical and dental insurance.
They also want to see tax credits and vouchers for struggling parents.
In Claytor’s view, the state should want to see daycare centers packed, so parents can keep working.
“Child care needs help,” she said. “We are important. The economy cannot function without childcare.”
Franchot said he plans to present some of these needs to lawmakers when the legislative session begins in January.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/12/08/hit-hard-by-the-pandemic-marylands-child-care-center-ask-lawmakers-for-help/ Hit Hard by Pandemic, Maryland’s Child Care Center Asks Legislators For Help – CBS Baltimore