As of May 1, more than 300 child care programs statewide have been designated as emergency providers to help support the children and families of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Christina Lachance of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation says some emergency child care centers are closing their doors due to a lack of demand.
“I think as more businesses have shut down, some centers, although they had wanted to remain open, just don’t have enough volume to remain open,” she says.
According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, only 243 of the 305 total emergency providers are open and caring for children.
“Sixty-two additional programs are currently closed but will be ready to open when businesses reopen,” the report reads.
But Lachance, who’s worked in early childhood for more than 20 years, says child care centers aren’t just going to suddenly re-open.
“It’s going to be based on demand,” she says. “So if schools are closed and you’re already staying at home with your third-grader, maybe you want to keep your 4-year-old home for the rest of the year.”
Lachance says the demand for child care is changing day by day, but as businesses start to re-open, the state will have a clearer sense of what the needs will be post-COVID-19.
Through the state’s Emergency Child Care Collaborative, a collaboration between DHHS, the state Department of Education, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, more than $7 million has been distributed to support the state’s emergency child care centers through the pandemic.
Of that, some money has gone to creating a $5 hourly incentive payment to keep child care workers working and off of unemployement.
According to DHHS, “all eligible programs have begun to receive incentive payments.”
As of Monday, April 27, approximately 5,000 children are being served weekly through the state’s Emergency Child Care Program.