Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center Opens as Emergency Child Care
We were open for full day care for infant through school age children (144 slots) as schools had shut down on March 13th, 2020 and parents needed care as businesses were still open as usual. Due to Covid-19 the Governor of Massachusetts closed all Child Care facilities on March 20th. At the request of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care (EEC), we applied to be an Exempt Emergency Childcare Program (EECCP). As an EECCP, we would receive a small grant through a flat rate to help defray costs of operations for up to 40 children in two classrooms. The Commonwealth understands that these stipends will not cover our costs but hoped that providers would step forward to provide child care as it is a critical service and is relied upon by essential emergency workers who are needed to address the health, safety, and welfare of the Commonwealth’s residents. EECCP’s are not allowed to charge parents a fee. To prioritize public health and safety while maintaining this critical service, EECCPs are the only childcare programs that are legally allowed to operate during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. We opened as an EECCP on March 30th and are proud of our staff who have stepped up to be on the front lines caring for children during this worldwide pandemic.
We had 49 staff members on March 20th when we closed our doors and we have reopened to care for children in this health crisis with 21 dedicated staff. The EECCP funds of $20,000 a month will come every two weeks to help defray expenses. During this shutdown, we do not have the guarantees that came with our normal childcare payments, private or subsidized. EEC encourages programs with adequate space to open additional classrooms to meet the ideal ratios and program space to promote effective social distancing; which we have done, however, EEC is unable to compensate programs beyond two classrooms. We are operating on barebones with the minimal state support and inability to charge parents for these emergency services. We continue to have utilities; energy, gas, water, etc., a portion of which are covered by the funding that comes through the EECCP but the majority of these expenses including payroll for those we can keep on staff are being paid out of our limited resources. We believe that our community needs this resource of free childcare for essential emergency workers during this time but in the long-term it may not be feasible for us to continue in this capacity without the support from our community members.