Child care facilities can resume operations Monday, but many owners say the reopening is long overdue.
Daycare centers were first ordered to close March 20. Though YMCA centers were allowed to open in April to offer emergency child care to frontline workers, other families were left to find their own arrangements.
Michelle Wallace, owner of KB’s Kid Zone, said daycare centers should have been considered an essential business.
“I think that there are people who don’t understand how important daycares are to working families if they’ve never had to do that,” Wallace said. “I don’t know that people understand that daycare is a cog in the wheel that keeps the economy rolling.”
Wallace said about 75 percent of her clients needed the daycare and were bouncing children between homes. She added that her daycare has lost approximately 40 percent of their children since closing.
Aside from the financial consequences, Wallace said, there are other effects such as missed early intervention and milestones for the children.
“That’s a lot of what we do is to make sure that things aren’t falling through the cracks,” Wallace said. “Now we’re being required to wear face masks. One of the things that happen with babies is they learn to smile and speak by watching (us). There’s a lot going on there and we’re trying to get face shields for the nursery workers so the kids can actually see their faces.”
Christina Bolton, owner of The Learning Tree Daycare, said she’s reopening Monday because parents and children need it.
“The parents of Owensboro really rely on daycares because they don’t have any other family members to watch their children,” Bolton said. “Daycares are number one priorities for working parents.”
Following the governor’s guidelines for reopening, one of the major changes for daycare centers require children to be placed in the same group of 10 or fewer all day. Other guidelines include temperature checks and limited interactions.
“When I’m standing out on the sidewalk taking parent temperature and kids temperatures, it’s not going to be a normal day,” Wallace said. “The biggest loser in this has been the kids because we were their second home.”