ST. PAUL — Child care centers in Minnesota and nationally are asking for help as they struggle financially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

More than half of the child care facilities around the country will be forced to close within the next week without congressional help, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Early Care and Education Consortium, along with advocacy groups around the country, warned Monday, March 23.

While schools are closed, Gov. Tim Walz has urged Minnesota child care centers to stay open, especially to accommodate essential workers and their children. But that has become increasingly difficult as the outbreak of COVID-19 has continued to worsen.

“We are in a no-win situation,” President and CEO of New Horizon Academy Chad Dunkley said in a prepared statement. “We are working hard to support our employees who have been classified as essential, but have been forced already to begin substantial furloughing due to this crisis. We are a family-owned business, and without immediate emergency support, our 88 centers serving 11,000 children across the state will close in a month.”

Nationally, they are asking for up to $50 billion in emergency stimulus to prevent this from happening and said in a release that of the two million early childhood educators, more than half the workforce will be unemployed at this rate of closures as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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“We estimate that without immediate financial support, thousands of child-care centers and family care homes will be unable to cover their fixed cost within the next month,” ECEC Executive Director Radha Mohan said in a release. “Providers need a quick and simple way to access emergency assistance in order to do things like pay occupancy costs, maintain payroll and benefits and pay incentive pay to those educators and support staff willing to continue to work to care for the children of essential personnel for the duration of this crisis.”

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