COVID-19 pandemic impacting Hampton Roads child care programs

Posted at 9:16 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 06:46:37-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - News 3 is looking at impacts to child care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent study by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is reporting some child care centers have completely closed around the country.

Deb Gransbury oversees child care centers throughout Hampton Roads as District Manager for the Learning Care Group.

“I’ve been in early childhood for almost 40 years, and nothing compares to what we’ve been through in the last 30 days,” Gransbury said.

Gransbury said business is down almost 70%, and more than 50% of their staff has been furloughed.

“It’s stunning,” she said. “We have families who can’t be here because they’re caring for other people in their homes. We have families of essential personnel who are here, and for them, it’s a struggle to leave their children every day. It’s been tough.”

She told News 3 they also had to close their center in Williamsburg.

“It takes your breath away when you think about how many people this has impacted just in terms of people being able to provide a consistent, quality day for your most precious possession, your child,” she said.

NAEYC CEO Rhian Allvin is studying conditions at child care programs. Earlier this month, her group conducted a survey of providers nationwide.

“Child care has been devastated by the pandemic,” Allvin said. “It is families who lost their jobs. Families who are at home now under stay-at-home orders, and will have their children at home. Because child care is primarily based on supply and demand, when the demand dramatically changed, it changed the construct of the field.”

In their survey, the group had responses from more than 5,000 providers across the U.S., the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Allvin said less than 50 were from Virginia.

According to the survey, nearly half reported that their child care center is completely closed. Seventeen percent are closed to everyone – except children of essential personnel.

Of programs that remain open in some way, 85% of those responding reported they were operating at less than 50% of their enrollment capacity.

Gransbury told News 3 they have resources from their parent company to help out centers all throughout Hampton Roads during the pandemic.

“Right now, visitors and families can’t go past the entry way of our buildings,” Gransbury said. “Children have to wash their hands immediately upon entering the classroom with a staff member. We do daily health checks and take thermometer readings for our families, our children and our staff.”

“We also have a great online learning system that we’ve put out for our families that can’t be here every day so their children can continue learning at home.” Gransbury added.

Moving forward, Gransbury is staying optimistic.

“I believe we have every ability to rebound as quickly as possible,” she said.

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