Daycares struggling to stay open as Gov. Evers limits the size of operations due to coronavirus

Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 18:54:48-04

Coronavirus is not only forcing families to make painful child care decisions, but daycare owners have tough choices too.

Many parents are relying on daycare now more than ever, like doctors, nurses, and first responders. But a lot of daycares are struggling to stay open.

Bright Horizons, on Watertown Plank Road, is one child care hub that started serving critical workers only. It comes one day after Governor Evers limited every daycare in the state to 50 kids and ten workers at one time.

Bright Horizons is asking parents who can make other arrangements to do so.

Many smaller, private daycares are making the call to close.

"I had to send a good number of employees home," said Selwyn Jarvis, who owns Trini-Dad's Child Development Center in Greenfield. "It's getting to the point where they're worried about their safety. Their families are worried about their safety. And many of our parents are keeping their kids home."

Jarvis says it's hard to keep up with the ever-changing state requirements during this pandemic.

"With the social distancing, especially with children - if you're caring for infants or toddlers - they need to be held," he said. "There's really no social distancing with children. I also want to make sure I can pay my employees, but I'm a private owner. I rely on daycare payments to pay my employees and operating costs."

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) sent out a seven-page document to all daycare providers in the state. It asks for them to share what they need to stay open, since getting critical supplies has become increasingly difficult.

It also includes a survey, asking whether employees at closed daycare centers still want to work and whether they can transfer to other facilities that are remaining open to serve the children of critical workers.

"One of my biggest fears also is the ability to reopen after this," Jarvis said. "Some of our families could find alternate care during this time and not return. I've really tried to build-up this childcare center over the past six years. It's kind of like restarting."

State leaders say they're working on legislation to help daycare owners and child care workers get through this tough time.

A representative of DCF sent us this message: "We are surveying providers right now and working to stand up a system. In the meantime, folks should work with their local child care resource and referral agency."

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