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Coronavirus pandemic creates crisis for daycare workers, expert says

Posted March 29, 2020 1:36 p.m. EDT
Updated March 29, 2020 8:13 p.m. EDT

While some daycare centers have closed due to coronavirus, many daycare centers are still open, putting teachers and staff at risk.

According to the N.C. Early Education Coalition, many early childhood education teachers don't have health insurance, and others have been laid off.

Thousands of private child care centers in the state have already closed, but many others are remaining open because they serve the families of health care workers and other essential personnel.

Michele Rivest, policy director for the N.C. Early Education Coalition, said it's a financial crisis for the childcare sector, and employees and teachers are putting their lives at risk. According to Rivest, daycare centers can't afford to keep their doors open in the midst of a pandemic.

"Programs are closing because they don't have the financial resources to stay open," Rivest said. "The way we fund childcare is on the basis of parent pay, government support, the Child Care Subsidy program [which uses state funds to provide subsidized child care services to eligible families]. When programs don't have these financial resources, they simply can't operate."

More than one-fifth of early childhood education teachers in North Carolina have no health insurance, which Rivest says makes them more vulnerable if they get sick or lose their jobs.

"Many of them have already been laid off," Rivest said. "Over half of the childcare centers across the state have already closed. We have plunged the childcare system into an even greater state of crisis and need for emergency assistance."

Leaders are calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to put a relief package in place to keep the childcare sector safe in the coronavirus crisis. They say this financial assistance will be critical to their survival.