MORRIS COUNTY — Many families have been scrambling to either do without child care or to try to find alternative care so they can work. Assemblyman Brian Bergen and Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce urged Gov. Phil Murphy to immediately open daycare facilities across the state.
“Businesses are starting to open and with more openings forecasted in the next several weeks, we have to start to address child care,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “Working parents need time to plan and enroll their children so they can get back to work as soon as possible.”
Daycares, preschools, and child-care providers nationwide are facing a tough road as they attempt to provide safe, quality care to children while navigating the ever-changing challenges posed to their businesses. And, experts say that many providers may not make it.
Murphy has allowed a handful of centers to remain open for children of essential workers throughout his shutdowns. Now that demand is likely to increase, those who were not initially granted an exception are being shut out of the market.
Many child care providers worry they may never be able to reopen.
“It was suggested that PPP loans would be forgiven if we employed our staff and used it to pay our rent,” said MaryEllen Soriano, owner of Morris County EduCare. “We did our part but now we might not even have a chance if we can’t reopen in time. At this point, we would have to reopen by June 1 just to have a chance to meet those commitments.”
Not acting decisively to help the industry could have dire consequences said Bergen.
“Child care is expensive to operate, yet families are largely left to pay for it themselves while providers eke out a living on meager profits,” said Bergen (R-Morris). “The economics are fragile even in good times. When a crisis like this hits, it is devastating. Some should not be open and while others cannot.”
In mid-May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally issued guidance (which still defers largely to local guidelines) to help child care centers, as well as camps, restaurants, bars, and other operations, decide if they can safely reopen.
The two lawmakers also announced a plan with more than 30 small-business owners from Morris County last week that outlined a road map to open businesses safely and immediately.