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BERKELEY, CA, May 8, 2020 – As Governor Newsom promises returning workers access to child care, early results from a new study from the University of California, Berkeley show that many California child care programs won’t be able to survive unless they receive financial relief. The data snapshot also finds a pervasive lack of access to essential cleaning supplies and clear regulatory guidance among programs, raising major concerns about whether child care can safely operate during the pandemic. 

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) survey of 2000 child care programs across California shows that even if they attempt to open soon, shelter in place mandates have cost them critical income. 

  • More than half of all programs have lost income due to low attendance or families not paying.
  • Over three-quarters of all programs have made staffing changes (laid off or furloughed workers, or eliminated benefits) that will likely affect how many children they can serve.

The data snapshot confirms the precarious nature of the child care industry, where programs operate on thin margins and staff earn poverty wages.  

Last week, Governor Newsom called for child care to open in this next phase, but there is no indication that reopening all child care facilities is safe. The survey shows that nearly two-thirds of programs report difficulties obtaining personal protective equipment or cleaning supplies. 

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While children may be at low-risk of getting sick from COVID-19, new studies show they can still transmit the virus to their child care teachers, who face far greater risk. Many teachers are among the black and brown communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

“Unless child care facilities get financial support now and in the future, we’re going to see mass permanent closures across the state,” said CSCCE Research Associate Sean Doocy. “The answer isn’t reopening child care, it’s providing the resources that enable programs to be closed and reopen when it is safe to do so.” 

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment conducts research and policy analysis focused on achieving comprehensive public investments that enable the early childhood workforce to deliver high-quality care and education for all children. CSCCE is a project of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at UC Berkeley. IRLE connects world-class research with policy to improve workers’ lives, communities, and society.