Pandemic highlights critical links between child care and the economy

By Corey Carlisle

TThroughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have lived or befriended parents who try to work while caring for young children. A to study estimates that on average, a working parent lost about eight hours or a full day of work per week – and more for low-income workers and people of color – during the pandemic due to their caregiving duties. children. To ensure that essential workers with young children remain engaged in the labor market and support this important backbone of the economy, many banks have stepped up their support and collaboration with community nonprofits offering services. funding and support for child care providers.

Approximately a third of the American workforce consists of working parents. Millions of people rely on home providers to care for their children. Yet much of this industry is made up of small businesses – many of which are very small and very often run by women – that are on the verge of collapse and are at risk of not reopening. In addition to the multitude of challenges associated with operating these businesses, daycare centers in many states are operating or operated with reduced capacity and social distancing orders. According to National Association for the Education of Young Children, only about 25 percent of the child care market received a paycheck protection program loan in the first round. With millions of families relying on child care as a vital connective tissue for families and communities, the health and vitality of this industry will go a long way to get Americans back to work quickly and to support Canada’s global economic recovery. our country.

Abilene, Texas, First Financial Bancshares, and Scott Dueser, its chairman, president and CEO, knew the role of child care providers in ensuring the economy held its own, even amid shutdowns of schools that were just beginning and continue today. many parts of the country. First Financial appealed to community leaders and formulated a sustainable plan that attracted local nonprofits.

The United Way of Abilene mobilized and partnered with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and the Alliance for Women and Children, among others, with urgent approval to use nearly $ 25,000 per week for free child care for essential workers from a fund originally designated to help local nonprofits and service providers. First Financial remains one of Centraide Abilene’s most important corporate campaigns.

“First Financial will always be committed to our community partners who keep our local economies in Texas strong, especially during the pandemic,” says Dueser. “Forging a strong bond with our pre-school education organizations and partners organized and funded by Centraide d’Abilene to ensure essential workers have access to excellent child care is so important for our employees to continue working and that the economy continues to function.

Meanwhile, the Low Income Investment Fund – one of the country’s leading community development finance institutions, supported largely by grants and other funding from banks—Supports sustainable community systems for financing and developing childcare facilities through capital investments and capacity building. LIIF provides grants and loans for the development and improvement of facilities. In combination with these loans, LIIF provides specialized business support and development, including training and technical assistance on the design, development, financing and operation of the facilities.

Since the start of the pandemic, LIIF has provided grants, technical assistance and PPP funds worth more than $ 23 million to nearly 400 family child care business owners. These funds helped pay for expenses such as rent, mortgage, payroll, cleaning supplies, and safety equipment, ultimately helping around 700 vendors to stay open or reopen their businesses. In November 2020, thanks to a grant provided by LIIF to close a fundraising gap following the withdrawal of another funder following COVID-19, a new Children’s area a center that provides free care and education to families in need has been opened in Washington, DC

The pandemic has highlighted the key role child care services play in the economy, both in ensuring that essential workers with young children can access their jobs and in helping parents stay engaged in the labor market so that they can support economic recovery.

Corey Carlisle is Executive Director of the ABA Foundation.

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