By Megan Wilson

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — COVID-19 caused nearly half of all daycares in Arkansas to close.

Owners of the ones that are still open fear they will also have to shut down.

The Arkansas Early Childhood Association along with other organizations are now calling on the state to step up.

They want state officials to provide cleaning and screening supplies, extra financial support to licensed daycares, and grant programs.

Jenny Castillo, who owns Casa Castillo in Bentonville and Centerton, said right now only 10 of her 100 students are still showing up and she ‘s doing everything she can to keep all of her 35 teachers.

Castillo said parents can help keep centers stay open by not choosing temporary pop-up daycares.

“We’ve been trying to help one another within the childcare world by saying hey, I’ve got openings, we’re open, send me your kids, even if it’s a temporary basis,” Castillo said.

According to the Arkansas Early Childhood Association, a state economy report showed child care had a $700 million impact in 2019 and supports nearly 18,000 jobs.

This article originally appeared here.

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