The impact study analyzes the financial costs of the COVID-19 crisis to child care providers, the possibility of permanent closures as a result of the crisis and the level of investment needed to sustain the industry during a transitional period of low demand and after the crisis has subsided. Penn State researchers drew conclusions from both detailed surveys distributed to hundreds of child care providers throughout Pennsylvania and also a smaller number of personal interviews with child care providers and workers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how essential child care is to working families and employers, in addition to highlighting the fragility of the child care system,” said Dr. Philip Sirinides, director of Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs. “Without assistance, the impacts of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for months or possibly years as child care providers try to re-open, rebuild, and traverse their new normal.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis, 7,017 licensed child care providers were operating in Pennsylvania. As of late July, more than 200 of those providers have indicated an intention to permanently close their doors.
Penn State’s study estimates about 1,000 additional providers are at risk of closure without financial assistance to offset ongoing costs of implementing COVID-19 guidelines and reduced enrollments.
The department’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), which licenses Pennsylvania child care providers, is using the study’s recommendations to guide distribution of about $116 million in federal CARES Act funding allocated for child care. OCDEL is working on a distribution plan that will maximize the positive impact of the funds, and DHS will announce more information in the coming weeks. Distribution of the funds is tentatively scheduled for late August.