By Alexis Wainwright, KARK Fox 16
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Early Childhood Association has stepped in to ask for support during this pandemic.
More than half of the nearly 2,000 early childhood programs are still open and operating during the virus outbreak but it hasn’t been easy for them.
When you typically talk about essential workers you don’t think about Early Childhood Organizations but places like Small Fry Daycare are still open and working, but they’re hoping they’ll get some support during and after this pandemic.
“When you’re talking about essential workers and essential needs and those critical areas to make sure that early childhood is a part of that as we move forward,” said Jeff Dyer the Executive Director of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association.
Dyer is calling for immediate support for the states child care sector.
“They’re still open but to serve and take care of those kids it’s affected them in the fact that,” said Dyer.
There’s about 50% to 55% which is more than a thousand early childhood daycares that are still making it.
“We saw a big decrease especially with school-age children because they’re able to stay home with an older sibling or they’re probably a little bit easier to self occupy but it is a scary thing,” said Assistant Director of Small Fry Daycare Cassidy Harrison.
Dyer says many places like Small Fry Daycare are seeing declining enrollments and a lack of cleaning supplies, medical equipment, and essential food items.
“We’ve had a parent that’s delivered milk because our usual order at some of the big box stores we would order biweekly and immediately you couldn’t by 24 gallons of milk,” said Harrison.
Not only that, but Dyer says these programs for children are a huge part of the economy who says half of the folks using daycare are essential workers. Harrison says that’s why they decided to stay open.
“We just wanted make sure it was safe but they need us,” said Harrison.
Back in March Governor Asa Hutchinson announced relief for businesses and child care providers. That would bring funding for cleaning products and cover child care costs for essential workers, but Harrison says they still haven’t received anything yet.
“There will be some funds available soon but we’re just waiting for them their approval on that, I’m not sure of the amount but we are asking for support and our workers, a lot of times childcare gets left out,” said Harrison.
They’re hoping to get more kids once businesses start to re-open. Click the images below to view the accompanying video.
This article originally appeared here.