Child care in the U.S. is at a pivotal point.
“With the COVID crisis, I was shut down for four months,” said Lina Lane, who runs a daycare out of her home.
The industry has lost approximately 100,000 workers in two years.
Mindy Binderman, who runs GEEARS, an advocacy group in Georgia for early education, says it all comes down to money.
“The challenge with child care is that the dollars and cents don’t work on their own. Child care programs cannot afford to pay teacher salaries, to pay rents, to pay overhead, to ensure that their programs are high quality, based only on parent tuition," she said.
Factor in the lack of stability and constant COVID shutdowns, programs have struggled to find people for those critical child-rearing roles.
“Early educators are some of the lowest-paid professionals, and they average about $12-$13 an hour. They can go to Walmart, they can go to call centers and make a lot more money,” Binderman said.
Lane has shielded herself and her business from demise through experience and accolades. She’s also among the many child care centers that accepted grant money. The American Rescue Plan of 2021 provided $39 billion dollars in child care relief funds that are starting to run dry.
When she faces retirement, Lane will seek her replacement, a person who does everything she does at the level she does it.
For now, though, things are going well.
“They are just like my family extended family,” Lane said.