COVID-19 pandemic leaves many essential workers scrambling for child care

COVID-19 pandemic leaves many essential workers scrambling for child care

Essential workers like doctors, nurses and first responders are needed on the job more urgently than ever, but that means many of them are having to scramble to find child care with their children now at home.

"It's hard. It's very scary,” Meridith McDonald, a paramedic for Brewster Ambulance in Massachusetts, said.

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McDonald said on top of worrying about her risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, her family has had to focus on getting child care for her 11-month-old son Seamus.

She said her husband took an unpaid layoff to care for their son.

"I’m working more hours to support the family, you know? It’s just what we had to do, but the more hours I work, the more likely I am to come in contact or become infected,” McDonald said.

McDonald is not alone -- as essential workers across the country have been in similar situations.

Meanwhile, many child care facilities are having a hard time keeping their businesses open.

"They don’t have the number of parents, children that are coming to their centers or their family child care homes or they’re having to decrease group size,” Dr. Lynette Fraga, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of America, said.

The stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump last week includes $3.5 billion for states to address critical child care needs.

It includes funding for child care for essential employees and for child care facilities that had to close or had low enrollment due to the pandemic.

“More does need to be done,” Fraga said. “It’s estimated that about $50 billion is necessary to keep this child care system afloat through this pandemic.”