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Daycares continue to struggle as they wait for state funds for essential workers

Posted at 5:20 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 20:37:05-04

Daycares are open for essential employees only.

Originally, they had to close because of the coronavirus. Then they were allowed to re-open after applying, for essential workers.

Some daycares had to close because they didn't have any essential employees and others are just scraping by.

"We had both locations open for essential employees. We found my center only had two and my in-home had four so it wasn't smart to keep this location open. So we moved those two over to my in-home," said Elizabeth Rosiak, the owner of Bright Star Early Learning LLC and an in-home daycare in Parkville.

She went from having 32 children to six.

Rosiak talked with WMAR-2 News on behalf of several other daycare owners, most of them in-homes.

"They're the little guys," she said. "They're single moms sometimes that take care of eight kids during the day. That's their money. That's their bread and butter. As of 3/30, that was gone. They have nothing."

She said payment is the biggest issue right now. They legally can't watch any non-essential employees children so they're missing out on that money, unless they have a prior contract stating if there is a state of emergency you still have to pay for childcare.

For Rosiak, she does have a similar clause in her contract for her parents. However, she didn't think it was fair to charge them for something they can't use.

She decided to charge them half so she could at least stay up on her mortgage for the center while it's closed.

Daycare workers cannot charge their essential employees any money because the state is paying for their daycare. That, however, is not immediate.

After two weeks, they must submit an invoice to the state and then wait at least another two weeks to receive that money.

"We've been two, three weeks without any income. A lot of us, we’re suffering and then we have to buy supplies with money we don’t have," said Rosiak.

Supplies that are hard to come by.

"We can't find cleaning supplies," she added. "We're only limited to one gallon of milk or one loaf of bread."

Rosiak submitted her paperwork last Friday morning and is still waiting. She said she also applied weeks ago for loan or grant assistance and hasn't heard anything.

"If I do survive this with both locations, how many other daycare providers aren't?" she asked. "it makes my heartbreak. We're not doctors or nurses or things like that but we're here, we're serving their kids. We gotta having something."

Daycare owners also weren't able to file for unemployment when others were since they are self-employed. They are now able to apply on Friday.

RELATED: Maryland Labor Secretary details new unemployment filing process

WMAR reached out to the Maryland State Department of Education and they released the following statement:

Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) understands and sympathizes with our State's child care providers and the challenges they are facing, along with the families that they serve. These temporary, emergency measures are part of the COVID-19 response to support social distancing and life-saving measures during this extraordinary time. Child care services will be included as part of a thoughtful plan to begin safely reopening the State in the weeks ahead.
MSDE thanks all the individuals who provide child care and have dedicated their lives to children, and we are grateful to those who are providing child care to essential personnel.

Right now, daycares are operating much differently then they were before and Leanda Grissom, the owner of L&L Family Learning Daycare, showed us how.

She said parents and their children used to just walk in her front door, now they have to go through the garage to limit the amount of things touched and to keep adequate social distancing. Plus, before the child can go inside their parent must take their temperature.

"The first time I had to do it it was kind of heartbreaking because it’s like something you see in a movie. You can’t come in until I take your take your temperature first but now its becoming routine," said Grissom.

She runs the daycare with her mother. Once the child is signed, they go inside and wash their hands then it's time to play.

Grissom said she tries to keep the children a part as much as possible to keep germs down.

"They don’t always want to be separated, she explained. It’s kind of difficult but we manage."

Each child even has their own toy box.

"When they pretend to eat they don't always pretend," Grissom said referring to the kitchen toys.

Luckily for her, six out of the eight parents she has are essential so she is still up and running. She said it is tough not getting a paycheck every week or two weeks from parents but she remains hopeful.

"It can be fearful if you allow it. As you can see I have plenty scripture not only for me but for parents as a reminder. That it’s gonna work out the way it’s supposed to workout. I have a lot of faith that god is gonna see me through," said Grissom. "Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I don’t get those thoughts, I just don’t allow them to stay there because I can’t change it."

She said her focus is on being the best for the children she cares for.

Dr. Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Schools released a message to child care providers on Tuesday night. The full statement can be read below:

On behalf of the Maryland State Department of Education, I want to thank Maryland’s child care providers, teachers and staff who have agreed to deliver services for those essential persons and first responders on the front lines combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize the financial and health risks you are taking to help stop the spread of the virus and save lives. Without you, doctors and nurses could not treat patients, paramedics could not respond to emergencies, law enforcement officers could not maintain order, grocery store clerks could not stock shelves with necessities, and drivers could not deliver supplies. Child care providers are the foundation of Maryland’s pandemic mitigation and recovery efforts, and we are grateful to you.

We understand there are many questions about the current invoicing and payment process. MSDE continues to process payments for 2,880 child care providers participating in the Child Care Scholarship (CCS) program based on child enrollment, not attendance. For those child care providers who have stepped forward and agreed to provide child care through the Essential Personnel Child Care (EPCC) or the Essential Persons School Age (EPSA) programs, we are working with our CCS vendor, Conduent, to process invoices as quickly possible while ensuring CCS payments are also processed. To meet the challenge, Conduent has doubled their invoice processing team to 50 persons strong. MSDE’s team is working tirelessly side-by-side with our vendor to verify and expedite all payments and apologize for any delays some may be experiencing. MSDE will continue to work to ensure child care providers have the financial and other resources needed to thrive. If you have any questions, please contact us through this invoice assistance google form.

Our state’s child care providers will be vital to our recovery efforts and the reestablishment of a strong and thriving economy. MSDE is evaluating ways in which the $45 million in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding can be used to support child care or essential persons and assist child care providers once the state of emergency is lifted.

Thank you for keeping Maryland’s children safe and healthy every day.

As of May 1, the MSDE stated that payments are up to date, with all grants issued as well.