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Readers Respond

Maryland’s essential child care providers are on the brink of disaster | READER COMMENTARY

Thank you for your thorough coverage of the issues facing Maryland’s child care community during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond (“Maryland child care providers struggling to pay the bills as coronavirus rages on,” April 21). The stories told from the perspective of providers and parents are ones I hear often and from all across our state.

The evidence is more than anecdotal. The National Association for the Education of Young Children conducted a national COVID-19 survey: “Effects of the Pandemic on Child Care. NAEYC found that 33% of Maryland child care programs say they would not survive closing for more than two weeks without significant public investment and support that would allow them to compensate and retain staff, pay rent and cover other fixed costs,” while 20% would not survive a closure of any length of time without such support.

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Imagine if those statistics came from any other sector of Maryland’s economy — banking, defense or even horse breeding. Citizens would be outraged and demand action. Yet a collapse of the child care system would pose enormous if not insurmountable barriers to getting these and all other industries fully operational and citizens back to work. If crucial and immediate steps to protect and sustain child care are not taken, economic recovery could be severely undermined.

Child care was deemed an essential service during this crisis. Thousands of providers kept their doors open to make sure Marylanders could be safe, fed and their health care needs met. Like other essential workers, child care providers don’t want to be applauded or called heroes. What counts is support from policymakers that recognizes child care providers are essential even during the best of times. Without that, not only will the economy falter but our children and grandchildren will suffer too.

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Mary M. Gunning, Baltimore

The writer is director of Catholic Charities Head Start of Baltimore City.

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