U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, along with other senators, called on Congressional leadership to allocate at least $50 billion in emergency funding to stabilize the childcare industry. The National Women’s Law Center estimates that at least $9.6 billion is needed each month to preserve the nation’s childcare system during the pandemic. According to a letter, many childcare centers projected at the beginning of the health crisis that they could not remain operational if they had to close for more than two weeks. Many across the nation have been closed for longer than that, the letter states. The letter said that keeping childcare functional is “critical for getting families back to work and school as we recover from this crisis.”
“The profound gaps in our childcare infrastructure already cost American families and the economy about $57 billion each year in lost earnings, productivity and revenue,” the letter states. Nearly 500 organizations around the country signed the letter.
Considered front line workers, early childcare workers are exempt from the stay-at-home order Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave Monday. The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, requires businesses not deemed essential to temporarily close to limit activities and reduce the spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. The count of positive tests reached 100 Tuesday, with 17 new cases. But the state considers childcare providers as essential workers because without them, first responders and other government employees who deliver indispensable services might not be able to go to work. Some, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children, say that since childcare workers are being asked to continue to risk catching COVID-19 by working outside the home during the public health emergency, they should receive hazard pay.
The state’s message that childcare centers in New Mexico should remain open while everyone else is encouraged to stay home is the wrong message, say some early childcare educators. The state has asked early childcare centers to stay open while public schools are closed and to accept more children by loosening regulations. But at the same time, the state is encouraging businesses to rely on remote workers and is encouraging the public to limit itself to gatherings of no more than 100 people. President Donald Trump said Monday that the public should not gather in groups of more than 10. Related: State offers assistance to families and child care providers during emergency
According to a state report, 85.5 percent of early childcare workers are women and 55.1 percent identify as Latina or Hispanic.