In Their Words: The Reality of Coronavirus and Child Care

These are unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow in size and severity, bringing health and economic instability with it as it goes. Families are trying to balance work, child care and homeschooling. Businesses are losing revenue, and workers are losing their jobs. And everyone is wondering where the virus will strike next, and if it will affect them personally. It’s overwhelming! But as trusty Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

So in this uncertain time, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) is taking a moment to look for the helpers. For us, that’s the people who have dedicated their lives to helping children. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by an army of amazing, selfless volunteers and advocates who are doing just that!

We spoke to more than 20 volunteers who work with children to hear, in their words, how the coronavirus is affecting them. Here are four of their stories.

Valeria Holloway

Las Cruces, NM. Valeria runs an in-home child care facility

“I’m a 5-star in-home childcare provider and pre-k teacher. Right now, early education runs most of my life. I love it. I love when children learn new experiences.  I’ll do it until I can’t!

I live in Las Cruces, and my neighborhood is a mix of young and older neighbors. There are currently 21 confirmed cases of COVID in the Las Cruces area and that number is likely to increase. Schools are closed statewide and several other businesses are also closed by state mandate. My daycare is open, but not all children are attending. My capacity varies from 6 to 2 children from day to day. I’ve been trying to keep my staffs’ hours for as long as we can stay open, but I’m not sure if I will have the income. I’m adjusting my staff hours on a weekly basis. One of my staff members is on an extended leave of absence because all of her older children are out of school. I’m trusting in God that we will get through this storm. Personally, some of my family is getting cabin-fever, but with the daycare, it’s certainly not quiet.

I am advocating for kids because I believe families need quality child care and I want to be a voice for them!”

Andrea van der Hoek

Palatine, IL. Andrea is a pediatric emergency nurse.

“I work as a nurse in a pediatric emergency department and am the mother of a first-grade daughter. We depend on family members and after-school care to balance work, school, community service and after-school activities.  

Given the nature of our jobs, my husband and I will both be required to continue to work throughout the pandemic. My only child care option at this time is my father who is over 60 years old. I worry what will happen if he gets sick. Who will take care of him? Who will watch my daughter? 

I am an advocate with SCAN because I love that it’s bipartisan and focuses on where the moral and economic intersect when it comes to kids.”

Leah Zastoupil

Milton, WI. Leah runs a family child care business.

“I have been in the Early Childhood Education field for 30 years, and have been self-employed for 15 years. My child care program is my family’s main source of income.

Right now, my child care program is serving families with essential workers. Those that are able to keep their child home are doing so. The stimulus money will help pay my mortgage to keep a roof over my head. And if my daycare parents are still employed, they are required to pay. If they go on unemployment, I will reduce their rate to keep as many kids as possible when this emergency is done, but that means I am not making income. As a self-employed business owner, I cannot make up this money elsewhere.  The big support I could use is to have an outlet for reducing my stress. The constant emails from state agencies, the ongoing newcasts and social media posts about it all, and the unknown financial burdens is starting to kill my spirit. 

SCAN reached out to me because I am the president of the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association. I have been an advocate with them for 2 years now!”

Susan Hill

Centennial, CO. Susan is an Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education Consultant, and Early Childhood Faculty member at a community college, and a preschool board member. She is also a grandparent and SCAN’s Centennial Community Action Team Volunteer Leader.

“I work with preschools to offer professional development trainings, consult on individual children, and/or in classrooms to help teachers. I also work with parents through parent trainings and to share information gathered during observations. I’m also a primary caregiver for my grandson, who lives with us, and is in 1st grade.  

My husband and my grandson have primary immune deficiencies, so they are in a high-risk group for the coronavirus. Before the elementary school announced the extended spring break, we had requested in-home instruction for my grandson because attending school would put him and my husband at risk. I had let my schools know that I would not be consulting for the next month, and several of my schools have closed for 2 weeks now. My consulting work, if my grandson is home, will be limited once schools are back in session. Personally, we are staying home. Our daughter and son-in-law are doing grocery trips and we are disinfecting items that come from the store before these items come into our home. We are taking walks in the neighborhood, but are very mindful of keeping a safe distance from others.

I’m an advocate for kids because in my professional and personal life, children and families are a major focus. I’ve been in the early childhood education (ECE) field for over 40 years and I’ve been teaching ECE classes for 15 years. Children do not have a voice and I am glad to be that advocate for them, for their families and for the wonderful professionals who work in the ECE field.”

SCAN is grateful for all of the volunteers, advocates and helpers who make a difference for children every day. We will continue to do our part to ensure that they all have a voice on Capitol Hill and are able to do their jobs once the virus has passed. Will you join us?

Learn more about SCAN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.