2020-10-18 08:07

Coronavirus Threatens to Push the Child-Care Industry Over the Edge XKq世界播


The coronavirus pandemic has plunged U.S. day cares into a financial crisis. XKq世界播


Child-care centers across the country—big chains, tiny in-home operations, nonprofits—are teetering. Enrollment slumped in the spring and never fully recovered. Extra expenses, like protective gear and deep cleaning, are piling up. By some estimates, some 40% of U.S. day cares are closed. Many of those that are open have half the number of children they did in February, or less. XKq世界播


Lawmakers and economists are warning that many child-care providers will fail without government help. If that happens, parents who struggled to find a day-care slot before the pandemic would have to compete for even fewer spaces when it is over. Already, the pandemic is forcing many mothers out of the workforce, a decision likely to hurt their career prospects for years. And if parents can’t work, the economy can’t flourish. XKq世界播


“If the virus magically disappeared, could we go back to where we were in January? We couldn’t if there’s no child care,” said Elizabeth Davis, an economist at the University of Minnesota. XKq世界播

“如果病毒神奇地消失了,我们能回到1月份的状态吗?明尼苏达大学的经济学家伊丽莎白·戴维斯(Elizabeth Davis)说:“如果没有托儿服务,我们就不能这么做。”XKq世界播

Even in good times, the U.S. child-care industry operates on slim margins. Children come and go, which means revenue is unstable. The businesses have little in the way of collateral. Banks are rarely interested in lending to them, beyond costly credit cards, making it difficult to ride out rough patches. XKq世界播


Yet their fixed costs are high. They can’t automate jobs or cut their real estate costs by operating remotely. The result is a mismatch, where worker pay is low—a median of $11.65 per hour, according to the Labor Department— but costs for parents are steep. Day care for a single child can easily cost $10,000 a year, and double or more in big cities. XKq世界播



A child gets a temperature check earlier this month at Little Believer’s Academy. XKq世界播


“Most are so tight on the budget that if you lose one or two children, then you’re seriously in danger here,” said Linda Smith, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative. XKq世界播

两党政策中心早期儿童倡议主任琳达·史密斯(Linda Smith)表示:“大多数人的预算都非常紧张,如果你失去了一两个孩子,那么你在这里就会处于严重的危险之中。”XKq世界播

Seven months into the pandemic, the government loans and grants meant to keep day cares afloat are running out. Congressional Democrats recently released a report calling for more aid for the industry. But lawmakers remain at an impasse on the latest round of stimulus. Day-care operators, meanwhile, are bracing for winter, which threatens to bring a new surge in coronavirus infections that could keep children home. XKq世界播


Cassandra Brooks, who runs Little Believer’s Academy in the Raleigh, N.C., suburbs, has been researching financing options for her two-location day care. Mrs. Brooks was shaken when two of her friends, Keisha Sanders and Deanna Randle, closed their day cares. XKq世界播

卡桑德拉·布鲁克斯(Cassandra Brooks)在北卡罗来纳州罗利市郊区经营着小伯利弗学院(Little Believer‘s Academy),她一直在为她的两个地点的日托机构研究融资方案。当她的两个朋友凯莎·桑德斯(Keisha Sanders)和迪安娜·兰德尔(Deanna Randle)关闭日托中心时,布鲁克斯夫人吓了一跳。XKq世界播

“On one side, maybe you can get the money and not have to pay it back for a longer period of time,” said Mrs. Brooks, who has a master’s degree in education. “But then on the other end, I keep thinking, ‘OK, Cassandra, it’s probably not good to get these loans if your business is not going to bounce back.’” XKq世界播


Her program has about 40 children, down from the usual 90. Some have been in and out of homeless shelters with their parents, and Mrs. Brooks worries how they will fare if her day care closes. “I’ve got to put on a happy face,” she said, “even though it looks like we’re just headed for disaster.” XKq世界播



Cassandra Brooks’s day care has about 40 children, down from the usual 90. Mrs. Brooks isn’t sure how long she can stay open. XKq世界播

卡桑德拉·布鲁克斯(Cassandra Brooks)的日托中心有大约40个孩子,低于通常的90个。布鲁克斯太太不确定她还能开多久XKq世界播

In a June survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, more than 80% of child-care providers said they expected to permanently shut down within a year if they lost 20% or more of their enrollment. Day-care providers’ revenue plunged 35% from the first quarter to the second quarter, according to census data. XKq世界播

在全美幼儿教育协会(National Association For The Education Of Young Children)6月份的一项调查中,超过80%的托儿机构表示,如果失去20%或更多的入学人数,他们预计将在一年内永久关闭。人口普查数据显示,从第一季度到第二季度,日托服务提供者的收入暴跌了35%。XKq世界播

Some day cares are still full, often because they have scooped up children from nearby competitors that went under. But many owners, especially those who run day cares from home, are taking on credit-card debt or forgoing their own salary to stay open. XKq世界播


Charlene Wiggins watched enrollment at her day care and after-school program collapse from 270 to 40 in March. “We held our breath,” said Mrs. Wiggins, who runs Creative World School in Apollo Beach, Fla. XKq世界播

查琳·威金斯(Charlene Wiggins)眼睁睁地看着她的日托和课后项目的注册人数在3月份从270人暴跌至40人。“我们屏住呼吸,”威金斯夫人说,她在佛罗里达州阿波罗海滩经营着创意世界学校。XKq世界播

Mrs. Wiggins pored over health guidelines to figure out how she could safely stay open. She plowed thousands of dollars into a tuneup for the air conditioning system, automatic soap dispensers and extra cleaning supplies. Dress-up clothes and stuffed animals had to go. XKq世界播


In one way, Mrs. Wiggins is fortunate: Children have returned, and she now has a wait list. But her enrollment is only at about 140 because she has decided that keeping class sizes small is the safest way to operate. “I know when you’re running a business, you’re supposed to be financially minded,” she said. “But I’m 75% teacher-minded.” XKq世界播


Her bank has paused her $22,000 monthly mortgage payment until January. She isn’t sure how long she can make it after that. XKq世界播



Little Believer’s Academy teacher Charlene Brooks (no relation to Cassandra Brooks) walks toddlers back inside after spending time on the playground. XKq世界播

小Believer学院的老师Charlene Brooks(与Cassandra Brooks没有亲戚关系)在操场上度过了一段时间后,带着蹒跚学步的孩子回到里面XKq世界播

U.S. day cares lack the public resources the K-12 system receives. While day cares can get government subsidies for caring for low-income children, that money is typically tied to the attendance of specific children, which means it can fluctuate. Charitable donations are often tied to specific uses, not for funding daily operations. XKq世界播


Some parents have pulled their children out of day care because they lost their jobs. Others are scared their children will get sick. Only 30% of parents with children under age 5 have sought child care during the pandemic, according to an August survey by the Bipartisan Policy Center. More than half said they were uncomfortable sending their children to a day-care center. XKq世界播


Ms. Sanders, the director of operations at Raleigh Nursery School, is agonizing over whether or when to reopen. The nonprofit has been closed since March, and Ms. Sanders worries about putting teachers and children at risk. In the meantime, the center is eating into its savings to pay for fire and security systems, liability insurance and other fixed monthly expenses. And even if it reopens, Ms. Sanders isn’t sure it will work. XKq世界播

桑德斯是罗利幼儿园(Raleigh Nursery School)的运营总监,她正在为是否或何时重新开学而苦苦挣扎。这家非营利性组织自3月份以来一直关闭,桑德斯担心会将教师和儿童置于危险之中。与此同时,该中心正在消耗其储蓄,以支付消防和安全系统、责任保险和其他固定的每月费用。即使它重新开放,桑德斯也不确定它是否会奏效。XKq世界播

“People have bailed out all types of industries,” Ms. Sanders said. “Why not the industry that keeps all the others working?” XKq世界播


A few miles away in Garner, N.C., Ms. Randle worked hard to keep King’s Kids Early Education and Learning Center open for much of the pandemic. Enrollment fell, so staffers cut back on their hours to help the center trim expenses. XKq世界播

在几英里外的北卡罗来纳州加纳,兰德尔女士努力工作,使国王儿童早期教育和学习中心(King‘s Kids Early Education and Learning Center)在疫情爆发的大部分时间里一直开放。注册人数下降,因此工作人员减少了工作时间,以帮助中心削减开支。XKq世界播

Then, the church where she had been renting space for eight years declined to renew her lease after June. Ms. Randle has worked as a schoolteacher or in child-care since college, but she isn’t sure she wants to reopen in a new location. XKq世界播


She recently took an online class to learn about selling life insurance. XKq世界播


“It makes me sad to even talk about it,” Ms. Randle said. “I was doing what I loved.” XKq世界播



Mari Mbye, a Little Believer’s Academy teacher, watches over a group of toddlers on the playground. XKq世界播


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