AUSTIN, Texas - Although businesses are opening back up not all child care centers are. During the pandemic, daycare facilities were limited to only accepting children whose parents were considered essential workers. However, this weekend more people are headed back to work at retail stores, restaurants, and movie theatres as the state moves forward to reopen.
David Fiegen, an Early Childhood Policy Associate for Texans Care for Children said the lack of childcare availability will likely leave parents scrambling to find adequate childcare.
“If anyone ever doubted the importance of childcare and smart state policies on childcare, I think this pandemic has certainly set us all straight. The fact is a lot of parents who have jobs that opened up this week are probably not going to be able to go back to work yet because we need childcare,” said Fiegen. “I think we need to ensure the financial security and viability of child care. We’ve seen childcare centers having to close their doors and we are worried many are going to have to close their doors permanently. We need childcare to be well supported and ready for families when they are going back to work.”
Fiegen notes childcare has been an issue before the pandemic and hopes the state will help further provide resources for childcare providers and parents after the pandemic comes to a close.
Heaven Sent Childcare has been closed for more than a month. The owner Yolanda Cree made the difficult decision to protect her partner who has a respiratory condition.
“It’s just really hard because of our health, and our age we just can’t take a chance right now,” said Cree. “I’m going to see how this first cycle of businesses opening up goes. If there is a peak in cases then I am not going to open up anytime soon.”
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
Cree’s daycare sat empty, without scattered crayons on tables and quiet of the sound of children’s laughter. She took care of children ranging in ages from two to five years old. Cree fought back tears as she talked about the last time she said goodbye to them not knowing that see you later, would be much later.
I just thought it was going to be temporary,” Cree said. “I would’ve hugged them better. I would have said my goodbye’s better. I miss them”
The kids sent Cree drawing in the mail and she’ll video chat with them to check in. Her small business has taken a financial hit. Although she could have charged the parents for the time not spent in her daycare she opted not to. Aware many parents are now unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. She said she's lost thousands in income. Cree is eligible for pandemic unemployment insurance and is waiting to hear back on receiving a small business loan.
Cree said when she does decide to reopen she’ll probably reduce the number of kids to help maintain social distancing.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.