CHILDCARE PROVIDERS DEMAND CHANGE
Childcare providers have given so much to be able to remain open and keep their children safe. Hourly cleaning, restructuring play, pickups and dropoffs, spending exponentially more on supplies are just some of the every day struggles.
Despite the resiliency of the industry, more than 20% of child care providers have been forced to close and shut their doors for good. Where does that leave the rest of the Maine younger population? As it stands right now, there are not enough childcare programs to accommodate those school-age kids who will not have a place to go this fall.
There is something that can be done. If we childcare providers are allowed to have a few extra school aged children, that would help the families when their children are not able to be at school. These families have to be able to work and they cannot work from home, homeschool their children, when school is not in session.
We are only asking for a few extra school-age children provided that the provider has the adequate square footage. This small gesture would greatly help all of the families in Maine. Unless this is allowed, these families have nowhere to go. Many if not all of them have already given up their spots for their children to go off to kindergarten. Those spots have been filled with younger children and childcare providers cannot accommodate more under the current rules. This was approved for the summer, however, this will not continue under the current rules for the school year (when we need it the most).
Rec programs do not have the same rules as childcare providers. Their teachers do not need to have the same level of (or any) training, and they do not need to be 18 as they do with childcare. Ratios are not maintained. If we are not allowed to have a few more school aged children, these kids will have nowhere safe to go while their parents (who are already struggling) try to work every day.
Childcare providers are considering shutting their doors for good if something does not change, and if Maine continues to require masks for children over 5 and “recommending” them for children ages 2-4. Those who are requiring masks have clearly never been to a daycare, let alone a family daycare. Children ages 2-even 6 do not understand the concept of a mask. If we are in the process of teaching them to cover their mouths when they sneeze, and some have not mastered this, how do you propose to have these young children keep a mask on for the duration of a day? Some of these children are in childcare for 9-12 hours while their parents work. Some of them are outside most of a day and playing with other children. In a family childcare, and in centers, children fall, need comfort, need a hug. This is the nature of childcare, and you cannot keep the children apart. Furthermore, every childcare’s situation is different. LET US make the decision whether to have masks on each day, particularly in a family childcare situation. These are our homes!
Without changes, more childcare providers will be forced to shut their doors permanently, putting Maine in a more precarious situation than ever before.