County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said Thursday she and other state leaders are paying close attention to childcare challenges as more businesses reopen after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gardner, after a news briefing where she provided updates on data on the coronavirus and recognized more than a dozen county employees for their work, said her and other state officials must figure out how to pay childcare providers.
None of the more than $45 million the county currently received from the federal government through CARES Act funding was planned for childcare facilities, Gardner said. Some qualified through the county’s jumpstart grants program, but at-home providers did not qualify, she added.
“We’re going to have to collectively in the county and the state, really figure out how we’re going to do childcare, because a lot of people can’t go back to work if they don’t have childcare,” Gardner said.
Gardner also said hazard pay will continue for county employees through the end of 2020. That pay is an extra $2.50 an hour for the 200-300 employees that interact with the public, and is part of the CARES funding, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.
Child care has been a challenge since the start of the pandemic. Providers in Frederick lamented the state’s Emergency Personnel Child Care program in late April, saying that had provided care since the beginning of the pandemic, but had not received payment.
The Comptroller’s office said at the time it had processed payments totaling $8.5 million, but that some had not received those payments.
A survey from the Maryland Family Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates for families, children, and child care providers, said more than half of all child care providers in the state are at risk of closing if they don’t receive financial support. The majority of respondents on the survey reported losing between $1,000-$5,000 a week.