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Study Shows Some Utah Daycares May Not Recover From Economic Impact

Apr 27, 2020, 3:54 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Working parents know all too well the struggle to find reliable childcare. Now, with the COVID 19 outbreak, it’s proving to be even tougher.

In a new study published Friday by Center for American Progress, they found nearly 73 percent of all Utah childcare spots could be lost as we emerge from this pandemic. Many Utah parents are already feeling the affect.

Margaret Cocks is a dermatology resident at the University of Utah. She also has three children under the age of five.

“I think the childcare situation was from the second we got here,” said Cocks.

Following a move from Virginia, she said it took months of waiting to finally get their children spots at childcare facilities. Then the pandemic reached Utah.

“It was Friday the 13th and I walked into the kid’s daycare and one of the teachers told me to “enjoy my vacation” and I was just so confused,” Cocks said. “I panicked when I realized they were suddenly closing down.”

She had two days to figure out who would watch her kids.

“We quickly encouraged centers throughout the state to stay open and provide care especially for younger children,” said Page Checketts with the Utah Childcare Cooperative.

Checketts said even before COVID-19, there was only one childcare spot for every four children in Utah.

“I can see clearly the danger and the problem that we are in here,” Checketts said.

“You know that when you get that anxiety and you’re kind of like shaking, and all you can think about is what am I supposed to do?” asked Cocks. “That was suddenly my life.”

Luckily, after a few weeks, a light at the end of the tunnel appeared when Governor Herbert announced the “One Utah Child Care Program” for essential workers like Cocks.

“It was this like this hallelujah moment where I could finally breathe a little bit more for so many different reasons,” Cocks said.

But what about non-essential workers? What about the daycare facilities closed down?

“Even though they’re getting some grants to stay open during this urgent phase, it’s probably not sustainable,” Checketts said.

Checketts referred to new guidelines limiting the number of children allowed in a facility, and the increased safety measures that will have to be taken.

“You know in a crisis like this you lose the capacity when you are barely making it already, and we are really (going to be) in trouble,” Checketts said.

In Friday’s study, The Center for American Progress estimated Utah is in danger of losing almost 40 thousand childcare spots.

“It’s a really important piece that has been ignored in this state and contributed to the situations that we’re in now, and will likely be in for the next years to come,” Checketts said.

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Study Shows Some Utah Daycares May Not Recover From Economic Impact