The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the child care industry

KATY, Texas — With the rise of remote work, fewer people have been sending their children to daycare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with many companies calling their employees back to the office, some parents are in trouble.

Natalie Mazzola, a mother of three and eighth grade teacher, said the pandemic has caused major changes in her family’s childcare routine.

“It was just a full 180 of what we were used to,” Mazzola said. “We had to be extremely flexible because everything was changing day by day. The guidelines were changing.”

Flickering attendance has caused many child care centers to close during the pandemic. (FOX Business/Fox News)

These changes to the COVID-19 guidelines determined when child care centers remained open or were forced to close for periods of time during the pandemic.

Nicole Istre, owner of Katy’s Early Childhood Enrichment Center, said that in her 30 years in the child care business, she had never seen an era that threatened her industry like the last two years. “When the pandemic started and parents were staying home, we were down to about 20% capacity,” Istre said.

AIR FARES ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO INCREASE

The center survived, but according to the American Sociological Association, 35% of daycare centers across the United States had closed permanently by April 2021.

Children at Risk, a nonprofit that studies child poverty and inequality, has also tracked so-called “childcare deserts.” Early Years Director Kim Kofron said the closures have dramatically increased the distance between child care centers nationwide.

Katy’s early childhood enrichment center survived the pandemic, but according to the American Sociological Association, 35% of daycares in the United States closed permanently in April 2021. (FOX Business/Fox News)

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“Child care deserts are typically a zip code where the demand for child care is three times greater than the supply of child care,” Kofron said.

Istre warned that large areas of little or no childcare could create potentially dangerous situations for all parties involved, especially parents who will soon return to in-person work.

Experts have warned that the lack of available daycare could pose big problems for families. (FOX Business/Fox News)

“Parents can’t find child care, so they’ll find other ways. Do older siblings watch them? Maybe older siblings, maybe a neighbor? I want say, is that the safest thing?” said Istre.

Kofron said government money would help keep child care centers open, despite faltering attendance.

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“If they’ve had such a narrow profit margin over the years, their savings account was only so deep. So these packages that are coming to Congress now, these proposals that are coming to Congress, we have to have that additional funding to make it really work,” she said.

Kofron, Istre and Mazzola all agreed that pressure from President Biden and local officials to bring more employees into their offices instead of working remotely will help child care centers rebound from the past two years.

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