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?
From April through July providers were closed and all of our families were working from home so all child care scholarships were put on a temporary hold. In July, some parents in our program began to work onsite again and we reinstated their scholarships at that time. Some families continue to work from home and their children have not returned to outside care. Should that change before the end of 2020, we are ready to continue making payments on their behalf through the end of the year. All 2020 scholarship families will need to reapply for 2021, regardless of whether they are using child care now or not but they will have priority over new applications, as long as they continue to qualify, for 2021.
What have we done to help out the local child care industry?
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.
We also sponsored some virtual training classes for family child care providers, through the Maryland State Family Child Care Association. These classes, free to providers because of our sponsorship, will help satisfy licensing requirements and improve the quality of programs across the State.
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.
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 have been 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.
How can you continue to help?
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: email@example.com
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!