ATLANTA – Demand for childcare continues to grow as many schools announce prolonged virtual learning during the pandemic. Many families are struggling to pay for that extra care, and the facilities themselves still need help staying open. There is money out there for owners of daycare facilities and parents as well.
“The extra funds are instrumental in keeping our business going and making sure we are financially viable when we get to the end of this because we still need to have a quality program,” Kids World Learning Center owner Michelle Smith Lank said.
In less than two weeks, enrollment at the center near Savannah went from 97% to just 18% back in March.
With the pandemic forcing schools to close and many parents to work from home, demand for child care changed. Essential workers still needed someone to look after their kids, but the coronavirus directly threatened Michelle Smith Lank’s business.
Smith Lank said the STABLE fund, which is a form of federal coronavirus relief, kept the doors opens.
“With the cost of things rising—our cost for gloves has tripled. The amount of cleaning has doubled. We’ve gone up 3% of our tuition but with the rise in cost we needed to go up 18%,” Smith Lank said.
Seven months later, stay-at-home orders are lifted and many children are back in the classroom or in a daycare facility, as coronavirus numbers increase, but things are not the same.
Smith Lank said the money from the STABLE fund and PPP loan is gone and while enrollment is better, it’s not what it used to be.
The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, Amy Jacobs, said more help is on the way.
“We anticipate sending $55 million to licensed programs throughout the state,” Jacobs said.
By mid-November, childcare facility owners will once again, be able to apply to the STABLE fund.
It provided $38 million earlier this year.
About 4,000 Georgia students will receive a scholarship as well through a $19 million dollar program called SOLVE.
“It basically provides them with financial assistance to help pay for that care. We know a lot of parents are struggling right now trying to manage their work-life and their school life for their child,” Jacobs said.
Families with children in kindergarten through 12th grades are eligible and can learn more about that scholarship here.