As Vermonters return to work, who will take care of the children?

Published: Apr. 27, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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As more businesses open their doors and employees return to work, there is a growing concern about who will take care of their children. School is not in session and most day care operations are closed. Our Kiernan Brisson caught up with some child care service providers to see if they have the answers.

"There was a big fear of-- if I have to go to work and day cares are shut down, there wasn't anyone else to rely on to watch the kids," said Hilary McAllister of the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

McAllister is a health care worker who has had child care throughout the pandemic. She says her usual provider stepped up and is taking care of her three children under a rule that allowed child care providers to stay open if they took in children of essential workers.

"That was a big relief and it provided me with a lot of comfort," McAllister said.

Providers caring for the kids of essential workers are receiving aid from the government, including $125 every week for every child under the age of 5, and $325 a week for children who are old enough to attend school.

"I think what we're seeing is we did a very competent job in the state of Vermont in the immediate crisis response," said Aly Richards of Let's Grow Kids.

These efforts were also to ensure that child care providers who have lost business would be able to reopen when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

More people are re-entering the workforce each week, but schools and many child care services remain closed.

Tom Reeves, who owns Regal Gymnastics in Essex, adapted his business to become a provider for essential workers. He says some parents headed back to work will have a hard time finding care.

"I think they are going to face the dilemma of how do they get school-age care as they go back to work," Reeves said.

McAllister said she already knows of a few essential workers who have had to leave their jobs to take care of their children.

"I feel very fortunate because I know some employees that have actually had to quit because they don't have child care," she said.

State officials say they plan to reopen child care facilities along with other aspects of the economy, and they don't see a broad authorization for child care providers until June 1.