REGION — As the coronavirus spreads in San Diego County — and the rest of the world — parents in North County are navigating the challenges surrounding daycare while also working to help others.
Although public school districts throughout California have been closed, as of press time, some daycare and preschool providers are still leaving their doors open, while other private providers are closed but still charging for tuition.
Chelsea Levron, a mother of two toddlers who lives in Carlsbad, said her children’s in-home daycare facility closed their doors through the end of March as a result of the pandemic but planned to keep the tuition that was paid for the month.
“They are planning on reopening April 6,” said Levron, who spends more than $3,000 on childcare at the facility. “In the meantime, they are not offering refunds. However, they are working to create what they are calling a ‘learning bundle’ to send to parents with a regular curriculum. If it goes on for longer than these two weeks, they said they will re-address tuition costs.”
Although the daycare isn’t offering a refund, Levron said she feels lucky that the situation isn’t far worse for her family. She said she’s taking time off work as an employee of local high school, while her husband is able to work from home.
“We are lucky to not be too affected right now,” Levron said. “It will be hard to stay home and it’s possible we will watch ‘Frozen’ 1,000 times and that my daughter will eat through an entire Costco box of microwave popcorn, but it’s better than the alternative.”
As an educator, Levron said she’s also sharing academic tools with other parents to help them during this time.
Levron isn’t the only parent who is trying to help others in North County. Chelsea Saldivar, of Escondido, is also a teacher and said she doesn’t mind continuing to pay for the tuition if her daughter’s preschool closes its doors.
Saldivar, who pays nearly $800 per month for childcare in Escondido, said she is willing to give up her daughter’s spot to another family in need.
“I know firsthand what it’s like to struggle to find child care and need it pretty much immediately,” Saldivar said. “I know what it’s like to be employed as a teacher and how difficult it can be to file for unemployment. I wouldn’t want any of my daughter’s teachers to have to do that. I’m in a position to loan out my preschool spot until I go back to work. If that’s what someone needs I’m willing to do it.”
However, other parents said having to pay for childcare while still having to care for his or her own child will be financially difficult.
Angel Dutkiewicz, a Vista resident, said she spends more than $1,000 on her son’s preschool each month. As of press time, the preschool was still open but she said she would not want to continue to pay if the facility closed.
“If they did (require payment) I would be quite upset,” Dutkiewicz said. “I don’t have any secondary care, so school closures would require I take time off from work. All of that would certainly put a financial strain on me.”
Dutkiewicz said she might be able to work from home but that would be difficult with a 5-year-old at home.
But for parents who can afford to pay for tuition — they are happy to do so.
“Our son’s preschool is closed until further notice and I am more than happy to keep paying,” said Anna Joy Tough, who lives in Carlsbad and is earning less money as a result of the pandemic. “His wonderful teachers absolutely deserve to continue to be paid during this time.”
The state of California said any workers who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic is welcome to apply for unemployment insurance to supplement the loss of income.
For more information, go to edd.ca.gov/.
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.