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Daycare providers benefit from stimulus and COVID relief funds

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:47 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A new study shows COVID relief money helped child care providers stay in business, but they’re still struggling. The owner of Home Away from Home Early Learning Center, Amy Tharp, said in 2021, the biggest challenge her business faced is staffing shortages.

“Staff are getting sick, whether it’s been the flu or COVID. The flu has been really bad. Or someone in their home has gotten it and they’re having to quarantine. It has helped with it going down to 5 days instead of 14 but it’s still an issue,” said Tharp.

Tharp said she’s putting money from one grant toward incentives for staff to continue working.

“I’m using it as incentives for when they have to work over, teachers that are willing to help me take an extra shift. I’m able to give them a bonus or go buy them a nice lunch or something like that,” said Tharp.

A study by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children shows more daycares had staffing issues last year.

“64% experiencing employee absences, 55% hiring or trying to hire additional staff, and 51% facing increased staffing costs,” said Elizabeth Andry, co-owner of Southside Development Center.

Tharp said she was also able to give her staff raises this past year with the COVID relief money and cover more cleaning costs.

“I have germ fighters, they come in and spray my center twice a week. We’re having to buy hand sanitizer by the gallons,” said Tharp.

The study also found 81% of daycare providers continued to face increased costs for cleaning supplies. Ultimately, the study found although the grant money is helping providers stay afloat, it needs to continue rolling out to keep them open.

“We must continue to use federal stimulus and COVID-19 relief funds to stabilize the child care sector. Child care staff typically earn less than a family-supporting wage and given their pivotal role in keeping our economy running, it’s imperative that we provide child care providers grants to provide wage enhancements,” said the Executive Director, the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children.

Tharp said her business has remained open, thanks to the COVID relief money.

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