Local child care centers struggle as more families stay home | KOB 4

Local child care centers struggle as more families stay home

Tommy Lopez
Updated: April 24, 2020 10:21 PM
Created: April 24, 2020 06:53 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Local child care centers, like many other businesses, are going through tough times as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Fewer kids are showing up, which means less money is coming in, and employees are getting laid off.

Many are wondering if they will be able to reopen when the conditions related to COVID-19 subside, and in the meantime, families and workers are dealing with a lot of changes.

KOB 4 spoke with the staff at KinderCare, which has two of its four centers in Albuquerque still open. It takes kids ages six months to one year. It’s implementing social distancing, and trying to keep some normalcy along the way.

“Children, above all, crave routines, and I think their families really need that as well,” said Aaron Alaniz, who oversees the centers in the region.

Adapting isn’t always easy. Conditions and procedures are changing often, sometimes daily.

“As you can imagine, it’s difficult, but we’ve really, really been doing a good job,” he said.

Alaniz said, in mid-March, parents began pulling their kids out of the daycare. There are now fewer than half the number of kids as there normally would be -- from 500, down to about 200.

That led to the company furloughing employees. They have 80 staff members across their Albuquerque centers, and right now only about a third are still working.

“It’s been tough, you know,” Alaniz said. “We’re in an emotion business where we take care of young children’s lives.”

One worry is that workers on unemployment may find other jobs. This profession already has a nationwide worker shortage, and leaders in the field say they’re not paid what they’re really worth.

“It’s really hard to quantify. They do so much for our children,” Alaniz said. “They love what they do and really think of themselves as more than just essential. I think they’re critical.”

In the future, when more parents get back to working outside their homes, they will have to make a few decisions -- if they want to send their kids back, if it’s safe to do so and if they can afford it.

Alaniz says he’s confident the KinderCare centers will be back open at full capacity down the road, but there’s a worry that other centers may not make it.

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