Illinois childcare workers struggling to make ends meet during COVID-19 shutdown

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CHICAGO — Just a few weeks after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Illinois, childcare workers all over the state are struggling to make ends meet.

Unlike state-operated K-12 schools, the majority of preschool teachers are not being paid while kids are out.

Many are worried the novel coronavirus will be here longer than their jobs.

Preschool classrooms that were once bustling with children now empty and eerily quiet.

Teachers at Concordia University’s early child care center have been spending their time spraying down materials they once used to teach.

“We’ve been sanitizing all of the toys, all of the equipment. Everything is being wiped down,” said Cathy Gruenwald, an early childhood educator.

Out of 6,000 providers that were polled, 17% of them said they will be forced to permanently close within two weeks, according to a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Another 30% said they would not survive longer than a month without financial support.

There is a push in the senate to get a $300 million bailout for childcare centers to survive the fallout from COVID-19.

More than 64,000 people in Illinois filed for unemployment insurance in a three-day period.

NAEYC said even if parents find work over the next few months, there’s no guarantee their former childcare center will still be operating.

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