The sweeping COVID-19 pandemic — the sickness and the closed schools and shuttered businesses — has not spared Nebraska’s child care providers.
“It’s hit us just like it’s hit many, many others,” said Sue Wambaugh, who has run a child care business from her Lincoln home for 43 years. “If it hasn’t already, eventually we will all feel the impact.”
Wambaugh had nine children in her care until the pandemic — and efforts to slow its spread — began to hit Lincoln in earnest last month. Three of the preschoolers she watches and two school-aged children no longer attend because of varying family situations: lost jobs, reduced hours or parents now working from home.
A survey conducted by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska last month heard from 1,515 family- and center-based administrators and teachers who said much the same thing.
Eighty percent of the respondents said they are losing income, as parents keep their children home, and nearly all of center-base teachers — 93% — worry about families bringing sick children to their centers, putting them and their families at risk. Many have lost income from child care subsidies, which only pay for the hours children are in the home, not if they leave early or are gone for a day.