The attendance rate was relatively similar between rural and non-rural settings for infants and toddlers. However, these numbers differed significantly for older children. For preschoolers, just 26% of those in non-rural counties were still attending versus 38% in in rural counties. For school-age children in non-rural counties, providers were serving just 12% of their capacity for this age range, compared to 41% for rural providers.
ICS COVID-19 priorities related to the early childhood sector:
- Making certain that early childhood development (ECD) centers/employees are deemed to be “essential” in the event of local, national, or state shutdowns (understanding that care for the children of healthcare and other frontline personnel is needed).
- Ensuring that funding streams for home visiting programs, First Steps, Head Start, and other early childhood programs are not interrupted or decreased. These organizations must remain viable both during and after the pandemic.
- Supporting operational expenses for ECD centers, including salaries for childcare workers. Exploring the use of zero interest small business loans to alleviate the burden placed on full pay parents who are not able to continue to pay for childcare slots in closed centers and parents who are no longer using childcare because of COVID-19 based changes in circumstance.
- As access to unemployment compensation for non-profits and the self-employed are expanded, ECD center owners and workers should be included.
- Despite the difficult circumstances, we cannot compromise the health and safety of children and families. School closures are sharply increasing the demand for early care and education ‘slots,’ especially for the front-line health care workforce. We should consider what licensing flexibility we can provide to increase supply during this crisis, but only in ways that continue to protect our children’s health and safety.
ICS COVID-19 priorities related to the nonprofit sector in general:
- Making certain government agencies continue paying/honoring grants and fulfilling contracts with nonprofit organizations – as these nonprofits are providing essential health, nutrition early childhood, and other services during this time of need.
- Ensuring that programs (including low-interest small business loans) aimed at assisting for-profit employers through this crisis are equally available and beneficial to the nonprofit sector.
- Ensuring that nonprofit employees are considered in any unemployment insurance expansions made due to the pandemic response.