In a country ravaged socially and economically by a pandemic, education perhaps best exemplifies the challenges of recovery. As a society, we are grappling with the predicament or reopening schools and keeping students, families, and educators safe. Reopening schools impacts not only access to learning for students but the ability for parents to work and the economic recovery of all-too-important industries.
This struggle is especially pronounced at the child care level, where small facilities are closing entirely, struggling to fill enrollment numbers, and facing financial insolvency in the coming months. As we plan for economic recovery and life after the pandemic, child care availability and access will be critical; yet in the wake of the disease, this sector is pummelled.
To quantify this struggle and the enormity of its impact, Curacubbby and CQEL commissioned the largest national survey of child care facilities to date in 2020. You can read the entire piece here or check out our five biggest takeaways below.
1. 29 percent of facilities have closed due to the pandemic.
Of the 353 child care facilities surveyed, 29 percent have closed due to the pandemic. This set of closures eliminates over 6000 child care spots available in these communities. Nationally, these numbers could lead to a reduction of over 4.5 million child care slots available to families.
2. Facilities are operating at one-third capacity.
Those facilities that remain open are only able to fill one-third of their capacity, and close to 50 percent of non-attendees have cited COVID-19 as the reason for not enrolling.
In raw numbers, this means that enrollment has dwindled from 26,990 to 7,197 students, leaving a gap of 19,793 attendees. Of these nearly 20,000 students who have opted to stay home, at least 9,100 have directly cited COVID as the reason for the decision. At the facility level, this results in 26 students (out of the median enrollment of 60) canceling due to COVID.
The surveyed child care programs expect to see an increase in enrollment, from less than a third of total capacity to about half capacity. At the program-level, this is a 50 percent increase from a median of 20 students to a median of 30 students.
Still, even with expected growth in attendance, these programs are expecting to operate at 50 percent capacity.