Over the past year, I have wondered how providers have faired during this global crisis. Specifically, what challenges they have experienced. So I decided to reach out to you and find out. Here are some real-life confessions from providers and what the last year has been like for them.
How has it been for providers during this pandemic? Have you had to close or felt like you might? What about financial assistance, did you get any? Or has your enrollment dipped to never before lows?
These are just some of the questions I wanted to ask childcare providers. And even though we are, hopefully, nearing better times – I thought it was high time I reach out and check in with our tribe.
Real-Life Confessions From Providers
I recently posted a question to our readers and in our Facebook Group; How has the past year been for you? What challenges have you experienced? And here is what fellow providers had to say in their own words –
Charlotte Todd shared “Actually, I have been in the childcare field since 1976! First as a teacher then two years later teacher/director and then 30 years ago as the program grew I found I only had time for directing. Challenges in the past year include: less students (due to COVID), therefore less income; staff members unavailable for work because they are immunocompromised or they had to stay home with a child who was distance learning. We also, upon recommendation of our licensor, added a school-age classroom to our program. This allowed parents to continue to work, while our staff worked with distance learners. Something completely new to us and a bit of a challenge. The fact that my physician had me working from home was stressful. “
Regulation Changes and Dips In Enrollment
Tara Lynch said“It’s been hard. There’s been changes in the industry that we’ve never seen or experienced before. A few of those challenges we’ve experiences are: having to lay off staff in the beginning of this pandemic when we were all unsure of what was going to happen, finding groceries and cleaning supplies for the childcare center, hiring in new staff when enrollment picked up, keeping up with licensing rules and regulations, making changes to the center drop off and pick up procedures. We’ve had a challenging time figuring out how to keep up communication with parents while teachers and parents aren’t having face to face drop off/pick up any longer. “
This was echoed by Christy Wingert stating “When the pandemic hit I lost half my kids but kept in contact with the families to continue the relationship and to see when and if they would return. They started coming back a few months later and I was even getting calls for new kids.”
Charlesia Kosanke said “This past has been full of surprises. I have learned a lot about myself. My biggest challenge with this business has been maintaining full enrollment. I am licensed for 12 and currently have 2 children enrolled.“
Time to Reset
Jessica Ruble said “Lack of quality time with the kiddos due to extra cleaning and social distancing protocol.”
Rashawn Carter-Kamau said “It was a time of reset. Actually, I did well during the pandemic. When many others around me closed, I stayed open. Not wanting to close or act as a virtual school hub for school-agers. I didn’t want to turn my preschool into a virtual preschool. So I just added more to my policies and daily routines to help reduce the spread of illness. I reached out to essential workers. I ran a special to attract those parents. My enrollment stayed full until the Fall. By then many parents had already adapted to working from home or some even decided to offer babysitting as an additional means of income.”
Rashawn continued, “I usually replace kindergarteners with new younger children to take the place of those going to school. That time took a little longer to get new children in. I remained patient. Knowing that many parents who decided to keep their children home with them as they worked from home would eventually get tired of trying to balance work and caring for their children. I ran ads to attract those parents. Reminding them of the importance of children being in social environments and that my small preschool has adapted to the pandemic. By January, my enrollment was full again.“
“The challenges have been heartbreaking.“
Esther Ali shared“We closed down in March 2020. Had to sustain staff and clients via periodic phone calls and messages.“
Nancy Fugate said “The worse in my career, I have an incredible amount of turnover. The challenges have been heartbreaking. When the unemployment amount rate increased we lost more employees. We remained open the whole time. We watched the children disappear. “
Karen Louie explained, “It’s been tricky to realign to due to covid times but it’s very satisfying to have had some time to continue learning and rejuvenate a bit before continuing to do what I love best helping shape a safe and secure future for our little ones.“
Beth Fiori said “This last year has been challenging for sure. I have learned a lot about people and how they react during times of stress. Including myself. One of the biggest challenges has been getting qualified staff in that are also willing to work hard. So many young people apply but when it came to working they were much less motivated. The second challenge was the constant changing of the “rules” around childcare. I think there needs to be a way for the people actually doing the childcare to have some sort of say in all the changes. They are very unrealistic.”
“I honestly do not know where all the money is going“
Beth continued, “The final issue is that of equality. The money swirling around for childcare is not handed out fairly. I have applied for so many things and I don’t get any of them. I have two thriving childcare centers that are doing ok, but with all the restrictions they are barely hanging on. But because I am fully enrolled I get overlooked for grants. I honestly do not know where all the money is going that our governor and president keep saying childcare is getting. It for sure is not reaching me.“
Essential Worker Caring for Essential Workers
Nicole Regalbuto shared“This past year has been a roller coaster. Not knowing when we would be coming back or how we would come back. Every day is a challenge! Parents not following CDC guidelines. Had to shut down because of this.“
Marcia Lannacone said “The distance learning with 4 children, different ages, different schools. Alongside having 5 littles. Constantly trying to keep track of schedules, unable to give my complete attention to the little ones.“
Kathy Miller was grateful, sharing “I was very fortunate to work for many essential workers so other than closing for one week in the beginning I have been working the entire time.
Patsy Woodward said “Very strange. It’s a juggling act.”
Overcoming & Looking Forward
Many providers have shared with me the disappointment of not receiving much help over the past year. Despite the designation of “Essential Worker”, many providers have experienced stress over low enrollment coupled with the stress of possible added exposure to the virus. Unfortunately, this has caused several providers to close their doors.
While no one could have foreseen the magnitude the Covid-19 pandemic would reach, providers should have received more guidance and disclosure while they continued to provide care.
As we continue to overcome this disease along with the challenges it has created, we should continue to raise our voices for more and better advocacy for the childcare profession as a whole.
One last note – interestingly, in this “Real-Life Confessions From Providers”, I heard from mostly long-time providers who had been in childcare for 5-10 years.