State officials discuss strategies for keeping kids, staff safe at childcare centers

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Gov. Ned Lamont and state officials discussed efforts to keep kids and staff safe at childcare centers across Connecticut amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

A growing childcare crisis is leading some leaders to push for more resources to lower costs and bring on more staff.

“All that COVID has done is exacerbate a system that was already broken — and a system that was already unfair,” Adrienne Cocharane, YWCA executive director, said.

Families and facilities are feeling the pinch. The cost of child care has led parents to seek alternatives, leaving centers without the funds they need to keep their doors open and retain staff. But the pandemic and nationwide worker shortage has made that more challenging than ever.

“The fact of the matter is we cannot charge what it costs to teach and love and nurture our children because the parents cannot afford it,” Cocharane said.

There’s hope President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal will help tackle these issues with a major allocation of funds going directly to childcare.

“If you ask me what the most important piece of this what we have to get passed, it’s the early childcare, daycare, and universal daycare,” Lamont said. “That’s what I want to see passed.”

That money would help lower the costs f care as well as expand licensed childcare centers.

“This proposal calls for no one to pay more than 7% of their income,” Merrill Gay, Early Childhood Alliance’s executive director said.

There would also be an emphasis on training to bring more qualified staff into the fold.

“There’s no question that hundreds of millions of dollars will come to Connecticut for childcare as a result of that $400 billion,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D).

“On top of this, centers have had to close for days on end because of COVID. While each facility has its own policy, most often, we’re told families are still on the hook to pay, as it’s monthly tuition. They still need to pay rent and their staff.

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