SALT LAKE CITY — Child care facility owners across the state said they hope more children will be returning to daycare as more parents and Utahns head back to work.
Not only have owners seen a decrease in enrollment, but they now face additional health guidelines from the Utah Department of Health.
“Some of my parents have lost their jobs,” said Annie Gay, owner of Doddle Bug Preschool and Daycare in Sandy. “Some have just pulled out because they’re nervous aboutCOVID-19, which is understandable.”
It’s the same story for Debra Cahoon, owner of Riddle N’ Rhymes Child Care in southern Utah.
“I’ve lost four children so far,” Cahoon said.
That is a 50 percent loss of monthly fees for the home daycare owner.
“If they don’t return, then I’m going to have to start all over again and find new kids,” Cahoon said.
For the kids who do remain, new safety protocols from the department of health have added to some of the hardship.
“Now our parents aren’t allowed to come inside,” Gay said. “We have to meet them at the door, and we have to check the kid’s temperatures. We must make sure that the toys are sanitized and cleaned after each use, and that is a big one. Every time a parent comes to the door, I have to sanitize the doorknob.”
Both Cahoon and Gay have applied for the Child Care Operations Grant through the Department of Workforce Services, but they’ve faced some roadblocks.
“It’s like once a week you’re getting an email saying something doesn’t work,” said Cahoon of the application process.
“I don’t know what’s happening on their end. I know that they’re probably swamped, but at this point, we have not received anything,” Gay said.
Both childcare facility owners said they want Utahns to know they are open for business – they just wish more parents were aware of their options.
“These are things that could’ve been put in place that would have allowed us, as providers, to be there for parents,” Gay said. “There are a lot of us who would’ve been more than willing to do that.”
Parents looking for licensed childcare facilities can find options and resources at the state’s Care About Childcare website.