Dear Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force:
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, child care centers across the state of Alabama are joining forces and standing in solidarity to express the legitimate and immediate concerns of providers on the ground level.
Together we serve hundreds of children and families. We have dedicated our lives to providing safe and nurturing environments to the best of our ability. Above all else we understand the intricacies of our industry and what we need to safely survive the COVID pandemic.
We are concerned about the current guidelines for child care centers offered by the Reopen AL Responsibly report and the impact it will have on our centers, particularly centers that serve the predominantly Black and marginalized communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
The Reopen AL report is inconsistent with the White House National guidelines issued on April 16, 2020. National guidelines recommend that daycares remain CLOSED.
The Reopen AL Responsibly Report recommends that childcare centers reopen with no more than 11 children to a facility when Alabama’s Department of Human Resources is only willing to subsidize 50% of enrolled children through May 8. After May 8. Centers that primarily rely on government subsidies to serve at risk children will not be able sustain themselves with low enrollment and no emergency subsidy support.
COVID-19 disproportionately affects black communities in Alabama. If childcare centers that serve predominantly black,
and therefore high risk populations, are forced to open BEFORE the curve flattens, we can expect the virus to adversely affect at-risk families and staff members with underlying health conditions. Social distancing is not possible with infants, toddlers, and many school aged children.
According to the 2019 “Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families” report issued by Alabama Arise, 79% of the children receiving childcare subsidies are children of color. The report also highlights Alabama’s poor access to childcare for recipients of childcare subsidies.
Simply put, before the threat of COVID there were not enough centers to meet the demand for childcare subsidies. Post COVID we may find these communities with even fewer facilities to meet the needs of working families. Without the financial support and legislative support of our state Alabama’s low income and at risk children will not receive the care they need.
Please take the time to carefully consider our concerns and formulate solutions that will address the safety and financial needs of Alabama’s child care centers.
Thank you for all you do to serve,
Camille and Taurus Bennett
Focus Scope Child
Tot World Inc,
Kiddie World, and
Kidsville Child Development
Kingdom Kidz Early
Learning Center, LLC