Families returning to work under Phase 1 of Maryland’s plan to reopen will now have access to day care for their children.
Day care slots were provided to essential workers only under the state’s COVID-19 measures issued in March.
With Gov. Larry Hogan easing some restrictions, the Maryland State Department of Education has released “Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Child Care,” which states that 125 sites are now prepared to take on as many as 21,500 children.
Under the plan, families returning to work will pay the child care providers directly.
Families who have children in day care as part of the program for essential employees had their tuition costs paid for through June 7.
Starting June 8, those families will have to pay the day care provider directly.
Richard Huffman, CEO of Celebree School, which operates nearly 26 early childhood centers in Maryland, said he was “blindsided” by the announcement.
Huffman said the number of essential workers who took part in the program that allowed them to enroll their children in day care under the stay-at-home order has been growing as they became more comfortable with the arrangement.
Now, with families who were shut out returning to work, Huffman sees a mismatch: Even with the state’s insistence that there will be space for up to 21,500 additional children, there simply won’t be the capacity to take on the children of returning workers.
“These essential workers that are still out there serving our communities, and these new families that are returning into the workforce — there’s going to be no place for their children to go,” Huffman said.
Huffman also said the state’s regulations that day care providers keep classes limited to 10 children means many parents will find that they are squeezed out of a prior placement.
“You’re going to have to find alternate care. You’re going to have to find another school that has openings for you,” Huffman said.
Under the state department of education plan, day care operators have to make sure that social distancing is possible and families who can keep their children home should continue to do so.
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