BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – Thousands of families across the state are at risk of losing child care this week when COVID-19 relief money expires on Sept. 30. 

Connecticut received $370 million in aid for child care during the pandemic. The money helped many day cares across the state stay open, including the Bloomfield Childcare Center.

“It just helped us keep afloat during the times we needed it and our families need it the most,” said Jessica Salvador, the director of the Bloomfield Preschool and Childcare Center. 

Salvador said they were able to use federal dollars for new programs, like their Garden of Curiosity, where kids can taste-test produce and learn how food grows. 

When the COVID-19 relief money expires on Saturday Bloomfield the Childcare Center have to rely on state grants to keep the garden program, according to Salvador.

Merrill Gay with the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance said other day cares might be hit harder. 

“We will, over the course of the next year, start to see programs burn through all of their reserves and find themselves unable to make payroll,” he said. “When that happens, it will be a calamity for all of those parents who rely on those programs.” 

A report from The Century Foundation, a think based in New York, said 917 day care centers are projected to close, and 37,000 kids could lose their child care in Connecticut. 

Gay said the child care industry has faced fiscal problems for years, like staffing shortages and low wages. While the pandemic money put a band-aid on it, it’s not the solution. 

A federal bill called the Childcare Stabilization Act, would allocate $16 billion in mandatory funding each year so child care centers can keep their doors open. 

“We have this ongoing dilemma, that it’s a broken system that market forces aren’t fixing and it’s a classic place of where government needs to step in and fill that void,” Gay said.