In the spirit of transparency, here is what's going on at Child Care Counts during the economic shutdown.
How has the shutdown affected our Child Care Tuition Assistance Program?
Since the end of March, all of the providers our families use have closed. For those who laid off staff, we discontinued our payments, made on behalf of our families, starting with the April payment. Initially, for those who continued to pay their teachers (mostly non-profit providers) we followed the lead of the state voucher program and made the payment for April based on enrollment not attendance. We felt that helping these providers stay viable was central to our mission of making quality care affordable to more families. If these providers closed permanently, that would mean less options for quality in the area. Thankfully, some of these were able to obtain loans and grants through the CARES act that allowed them to pay staff starting with April. They notified us that the payments made for April, would be applied to June since they now had coverage for two months because of the CARES funding.
What have we done with the payments for April and May that we didn't pay?
Part of the savings from the two months of no tuition payments will help us meet our budgetary goals, since, understandably, fund-raising has been down and will most likely be less than expected in light of the inability to hold planned-for fundraising events this year. Unfortunately, out of an abundance of caution, we also eliminated one unfilled slot for a family in our program. We fully intend to uphold our current agreements with parents and to fund their child care tuition costs for the rest of the year, once things open up.
Our economy will not be able to reopen without child care options. Because of our belief in the importance of a strong child care provider network, we felt it was incumbent upon us to do our part to support providers at this time, to the extent possible. We were able to make two grants of $1,000 each, to home-based providers to help them with expenses until they could open up again. Both were family providers, not used by our families (most of our families use center-based child care.) One of these was a provider who remained open to serve first-responder families. The state of Maryland, like many states, has struggled to get payments out to these providers, in a timely manner, and she had not received a payment in over six weeks. We also provided deliveries of soap needed for the required frequent hand-washing by staff and children alike.
How are our current families doing?
We've been checking in on our current families regularly. All current families are headed by single parents which is incredibly stressful, as you can imagine. All families are struggling to provide activities for their children and keep them busy while they are self-isolating. For single parents, there are NO breaks. Many live in apartments without backyards and other green spaces to let their kids burn off some energy. Some live in high-rises where getting outside requires a ride in a crowded elevator - something to be avoided at this time. When a trip to a store is unavoidable, these families don't have the luxury of leaving children with another parent so their children are exposed to risks that others probably aren't. Finally, these parent's worst fear is that they, themselves, will get sick and need to be hospitalized or worse; who will take care of their children if this happens? We are ALLstressed these days but single parents have additional stresses that make the day to day routines more difficult. UPDATE: As of 10/4/20, some of our families have returned to work, on-site and we have begun making payments again for those families.
We also facilitated deliveries of art supplies, craft kits, work-books, picture books, and other toys to keep little minds active. Early on, we asked our donors to consider giving items on an Amazon wish-list and we were so pleased that relatively quickly the list was fulfilled! Items were assembled into packages depending on the ages of the children and we delivered these packages to the families, social distance style. Included in the packages were several masks - both handmade and medical masks - to use when they needed to leave their home. The families were extremely grateful for the generosity of our donors!
Financial Planning Sessions in full force! We are taking advantage of the down time and encouraging our families to complete their financial planning session, virtually, during this time. This is especially important when finances might be stretched. Alvin Carlos, of District Capital Management, gives our parents practical advice that helps them budget, save, and pay down debt. Recently, one parent was pleased that he helped her re-balance her 401k portfolio to minimize risks during the economic downturn. This is very hands-on, practical counseling that empowers our parents to make better financial decisions.
What will our fundraising look like for the rest of the year?
Our virtual Happiness Hour took place last spring. This year, for donations of $500 and over, our board promised to send 10 Potomac Pizzas to a front-line workplace of the donor's choice. As a result, the Bethesda Rescue Squad was the recipient of a pizza dinner one evening and the YMCA BCC Ayrlawn Children's Center, a provider serving first-responder families, enjoyed two pizza lunches. Both of these were made possible through generous donations and the generosity of our board.
We are gearing up for our mostly virtual Big Hearts = Great Starts event to be held on October 21. Check out the event page for more info. Our online, silent auction contains 20 special items this year, and a board match that will go to three local organizations that are important to the donor of those three items. Please consider supporting us by 1) purchasing a Rocklands BBQ meal to be picked up on Oct 21, 2) registering for and bidding in our silent auction, and 3) making a general donation for the event. Thanks!!!
We know times are tough for a lot of people, but if you are in a position to do so, please make a general donation - even better, make it a monthly recurring donation!
If you are a federal worker or contractor to the Federal Government, the 2020 campaign has begun! Please consider pledging to Child Care Counts #12342.
If you use facebook, consider setting up a fundraiser to benefit Child Care Counts. You can do this in honor of your birthday or virtually any milestone. If you need help setting one up, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
Designate Child Care Counts as one of your charities within AmazonSmile and every time you make a purchase, Child Care Counts will receive a percentage of the price of qualifying items.
As always, thank you for your continued generosity!! We wish you the blessings of good health, happiness, loving family and economic stability!