PC Tots Set To Reopen July 1st
As coronavirus restrictions ease and businesses begin to reopen – so will childcare centers – to serve those parents who are being called back to work. But due to fear of the virus, and unemployment benefits paying better than a full-time job, it could be a challenge to find staff to work in local child-care centers.
On March 13th – the last day PC Tots was open for business when the COVID-19 crisis hit, they had 114 children enrolled. But with businesses shut down and schools canceled, parents were furloughed or laid off and could stay home with their kids.
Carol Loomis, president of the board of directors for PC Tots says they could have stayed open but when they did – they had so few children show up and a less than willing staff to work...
“We made a decision that we were going to stay open when we heard the health orders,” Loomis said. “But we opened on March 16th, we had only 26 children show up and then we had 20 teachers and none of them wanted to be there - they were afraid - they just didn't want to do that work at this time. So, we had to close down immediately. We went from 114 children in the centers coming 11 hours a day and only taking 7 holidays in the year, to suddenly were completely closed.”
They had to furlough 23 staff members – using all of their reserves to pay the salaries and earned PTO. Loomis says it’s been financially devastating, and they’ve had to go into survival mode just to keep up with their ongoing expenses...
“We have a mortgage on one building with common area fees,” Loomis said. “We also have to pay rent. We have to pay licensing insurance - we’re heavily insured in this business. We have all kinds of bills - Comcast doesn't stop- we have cameras in every one of our classrooms. We were able to get a PPP loan. We were able to get deferral on our mortgage and a slight deferral on rent and so we’ve kept our business manager working, our grant manager working half-time. So, we’re doing everything we can to find additional funding and also just to keep our facilities open”
The plan now is to reopen July 1st –
“We right now are just rushing to get back our staff – to find the families that are needing it. We’ve had a number of families calling so it was a very difficult decision to open. very difficult to open because there are so many unknowns but so many families need to have the day care. One father emailed me and said he’s had leave that’s he’s had to take care of his kids is going to be up July 5th and either he or his wife would have to have to quit their jobs to take care of the children, if they didn’t have child care.”
Based on new state regulations – they will have a 20% cut in enrollment.
57 kids have signed up to start July 1st – 28 % of them at the most deeply subsidized rate. Between the two centers, Loomis says they’ll be able to take up to 94 children.
While they’re scrambling to cut costs, in order to reopen, they had to put out money for steam cleaners at both centers - and are building tall storage units that will double as walls between the classrooms. She doesn’t think they could return to their previous numbers because the storage units are cutting down their square footage.
While they used to be open from 7am – 6 pm, she says they will go down to 8 to 5 pm, mostly due to staffing issues.
“It was already difficult to staff in PC before the pandemic,” she said “and – now we just don’t know how many of the people – some of the people - have other jobs and will come back. But when people went on unemployment, they make more than we paid for them, so some people are not willing to return from unemployment.”
When they reopen, they will conduct health checks, including children and adults – and will test everyone with non-touch thermometers before entering.
Meanwhile, Rachel Barnett has been hired as the new Executive Director of PC Tots. Loomis says she was a great find.”
“She grew up in Utah,” Loomis said. She was single parent of two daughters for many years. She's a former employee of People’s Health Clinic and a medical assistant from Primary Children's outpatient clinic. She has a bachelor’s in Spanish, a master’s degree in public health and a master’s in legal studies. So, you can see her experience with the Latin X community, and health, and law are just a perfect fit for us.”
Carol Loomis, President of the Board for PC Tots. She says
while they were in negotiations to open a 3rd center –that has been put on hold.