BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One thing Maryland’s frontline workers haven’t had to worry about during the COVID-19 pandemic is child care, but that could soon change.
Some Maryland child center directors and owners said they’re worried they won’t be able to stay open much longer because they haven’t been paid in weeks.
“The funds that we have can maybe get us through another two weeks,” Sue Kruhm, the owner of Peter Pan Learning Center, said.
Maryland Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon ordered most child care providers to close last month when state-imposed coronavirus restrictions began.
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Some childcare centers were allowed to remain open for essential workers, but at no cost to families.
Instead, the State Board of Education was supposed to be footing the bill and pay $350 each week per-child under the age of three, and $250 for children over the age of three.
The payments, however, have not yet come.
“When you offer something out and we agree to it, we do expect to get what that agreement is,” Iamani-Angela Rose, the director of Joshua’s Place, said.
Providers said they operate on thin margins and are taking care of fewer kids, meaning less revenue, but the bills for them haven’t stopped coming in.
“We’re still having to pay the utilities, we’re still having to pay the mortgage, we’re still having to buy supplies,” said Carrie Youssi with Peter Pan Learning Center.
On top of that, they said there’s been plenty of confusion, and some aren’t sure what to do next.
“It’s beyond frustrating, it’s overwhelming and sometimes it’s quite saddening,” Rose said.
In a statement released Friday by the Maryland Department of Education, it said, in part:
“The processing time can be attributed to the need to put an entirely new administrative and validation process into place, the volume of invoices and limited staffing.
WJZ has learned that payments will be mailed out next week.
The Maryland Department of Education also said Friday it will be sending out $2,000 grant payments to essential child care providers by the end of next week.