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Central Coast child care centers plan to use $10 billion federal relief for sanitation costs, employee wages

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Many child care centers and services are seeing fewer clients as parents either can’t afford it or juggle work with their children’s online learning schedules.

Central Coast caretakers and industry professionals say they are enthusiastic for $10 billion dollars in federal financial relief, but the industry as a whole is suffering.

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Raechelle Bowlay, the childcare planning council manager at the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), says the child care sector was greatly impacted during the pandemic.

“It was already a really fragile system to begin with in terms of serving our children in our community and doing that with limited resources,” Bowlay said.

Bowlay says that while many are trying their best to balance restrictions and safety guidelines, the pandemic still presents a challenge.

“[Providers] are being hit left and right with how to maintain this level of care and quality of care that is absolutely necessary while still making sure that they can pay their bills,” Bowlay said.

According to a November 2020 survey of about 6,000 providers, the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that 56% of child care centers say that they are losing money every day that they remain open.

Child-Care Resource Connection Manager at CAPSLO, Shana Paulson, also found that the community’s needs have shifted.

“We have seen that there has been a 46% decrease in the number of families looking for childcare at this time,” Paulson said.

Valley View Children’s Center Director, Jamie Sanbonmatsu, says doesn’t believes the $10 billion allocated for child care in the latest federal COVID-19 relief package will be enough to adequately help the industry, the relief is a welcomed offering that could be used to help pay for staff and the cost of safety protocols.

“We are in this because we believe in it, it’s our passion, we believe in supporting our families and communities and children and we want to stay open, we want to be there,” Sanbonmatsu said.

According to the CAPSLO, requests for infant care decreased by 11% while requests for school age children increased by 18% from 2019 to 2020 in San Luis Obispo County.

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