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Child care centers struggling, new executive order aims to help

Resources for child care centers and parents
Rebound STRUGGLING CHILD CARE CENTERS.jpg
Posted at 5:59 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 16:21:44-04

OMAHA, Neb. — As some restrictions are lifted for daycares Monday, many centers remain under a lot of strain and stress. Parents who now work from home aren't bringing children in, causing financial problems for the businesses, causing some to shut down. A new executive order aims to help these centers and working families amid COVID-19.

Erika Felt is the owner of a small at home daycare in Omaha. She, like many child care workers, have lost a lot of business due to COVID-19.

"A lot of my part-time families have gone," she said.

But Erika is considered lucky. The virus has caused many child care centers to shut down, with uncertainty as to whether they'll reopen.

"We have seen a few of them get out of the business just because they didn't think they could survive it. So it's going to be tough when things 'go back to normal,'" Midwest Child Care Association executive director Janet Herzog said.

To help with some of the strain on childcare centers, Governor Ricketts signed an executive order on April 15 suspending some state restrictions when it comes to the Child Care Subsidy Program, helping some child care centers stay open.

The executive order comes in two parts:
- Child care providers who have a current Child Care Subsidy agreement can bill the Department of Health and Human Services for the days that a child is absent
- Families that are eligible to participate in the program can obtain in-home child care when other child care options are unavailable

"We were trying very hard to do two things. One is ensure that childcare is available and accessible so they can go to work and the second is that providers could stay open or reopen to ensure that our childcare needs are met," the Director of the Division of Children and Family Services in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Stephanie Beasley said.

According to DHHS, since the executive order went into place, 678 providers/programs requested absent day billing and 15 providers were able to reopen.

Felt says she used to have subsidized children at her daycare but not anymore. The financial strain was too much. While she finds Governor Ricketts' executive order helpful, she believes it needs to be extended post-COVID-19, to help already over-worked childcare workers.

"But it needs to continue so that the providers go, 'Yeah, I can help now because I'm not worried in two months I'll have to send them away,'" she said.

This story has been updated to reflect new information given to 3 News Now by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

To see if you're eligible for Child Care Subsidy contact ACCESS Nebraska at 800-383-4278 or contact DHHS at 402-471-9152

Resources for Working Parents -Nebraska Child Care Referral Network

Resources for Child Care Providers - Nebraska Children and Families Foundation

Additional resources are attached below:

Click here to download a childcare flowchart.