What the US bailout means for Maryland’s child care providers – Maryland matters
The massive $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program that Congress passed last week will bring direct relief to millions of Marylanders, but especially families still struggling amid the pandemic.
In a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday, Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen (R) highlighted the urgent childcare needs the US bailout is providing. More than 78,000 licensed child care spaces in Maryland could be lost due to the pandemic and exacerbate the already dire shortage of child care providers, he said. This is especially important because women of color make up half of all child care centers in the state.
“If we do not address this urgently, it will not only create greater hardship for families with children and for those providing care, but also for our economy as a whole,” said Van Hollen.
The American Rescue Plan will inject $ 513 million into Maryland for child care assistance for families and day care centers, as well as $ 11 million for Head Start programs.
Families with children will also receive direct benefits from an expanded child tax credit for the 2021 tax year, which increased from $ 2,000 to $ 3,600 per child under 6 and under 3. $ 000 per child aged 6 to 17. , which helps offset child care costs, has gone from a maximum of $ 2,100 to a maximum of $ 4,000 for one child or $ 8,000 for two or more children.
These changes are expected to lift Maryland’s 52,000 children out of poverty. Although these credits only last until the end of the year, Van Hollen said he hopes to extend this provision permanently.
Maryland’s child care providers announced the US bailout, but said there was a long road to recovery. “This is infrastructure that was already fragile and needs to be completely rebuilt,” said Chris Peausch, executive director of the Maryland State Child Care Association.
Most daycares are operating at 50-60% of capacity while facing additional costs for disinfection and personal protective equipment to meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements. Maryland daycares lose about $ 56,400 per month in income on average, operate with significant losses and dip into savings, Peausch said.
“We really need the bailout – we need it for stabilization grants based on financial strains or disruption and operations. Grants should be fair and should be calculated based on percentage and loss of enrollment from March 2020 to March 2021, ”she said. Recent childcare subsidies failed to account for all of the losses, she said.
A investigation conducted in late January by the Maryland Family Network found that monthly daycare expenses increased by an average of $ 5,300 per daycare.
Without any financial assistance, 49% of daycares say they have to close permanently, after experiencing an average drop of 20% in registrations between January 2020 and January 2021.
In the past year, 745 family child care programs, which operate at home, have been closed, according to Ruby Daniels, president of the Maryland State Family Child Care Association. Providers who do not have strong computer skills and speak English as a second language need more help navigating the loan and grant application process, and some would not have gotten anything from the original CARES law. , she continued.
Providers who normally offer after-school enrichment programs “became teachers overnight” when students began virtual learning, said Tracy Broccolino, director of education at the Howard County Community Action Council. They’ve found creative ways to create a social environment while still distancing themselves, like Zoom paint nights and hot chocolate and chat video calls, and those extra efforts deserve more compensation, Broccolino argued.
“I hope this bailout will allow us, as child care providers, not only to survive, but also to start paying our educators what they deserve,” she said. While Maryland is on track to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2026, child care centers need the increase now, she said.
“That will be our challenge… to make sure we weather the storm first, and then build a stronger system for quality early education and child care,” said Van Hollen.