CINCINNATI (FOX19) -A local childcare learning facility is asking the government for financial relief as the industry tries to operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learning Grove CEO Shannon Starkey-Taylor emphasizes the need for a $50 billion stimulus package for childcare providers, which Congress is considering, for childcare centers to reopen and operate safely.
“There’s a couple of different versions floating around, but with the stimulus package, we’re really advocating for the $50 billion, and that will only keep us whole for about a year,” said Starkey Taylor. “We already had a system with razor-thin margins that was built and wasn’t healthy, to begin with, so it’s absolutely critical we have that continued support.”
In Jan., Cincinnati Early Learning Centers and Children, Inc. merged to Learning Grove, and the cost continued to pile up less than 90 days into the merger.
Starkey-Taylor said she was fortunate to apply and run two pandemic childcare centers for essential staff, but called it nerve-racking as they worked with essential workers.
Starkey-Taylor said through the process it helped to get the safety protocols nailed down, such as temperature checks at the door, cleaning the facilities at the top of the hour every hour, regularly cleaning toys, equipment and supplies.
In turn, running the essential child care center ‘positioned them well’ for reopening with normal class sizes Sunday.
Starkey-Taylor says if there are two teachers per classroom and one calls in sick, the classrooms will not be combined-whereas before they would combine classes.
Furthermore, The United Way and other charitable organizations have been instrumental in helping with hidden costs and the increasing need for personal protection equipment.
Starkey-Taylor points out these community partners have provided outstanding support for gloves, masks, and thermometers.
She stresses the need for more financial assistance for child care centers nationwide.
Starkey-Taylor says Learning Grove’s mission is ‘to develop and support innovative, quality learning experiences that empower children, youth, and families across diverse communities.’