Wonderschool has partnered with the Maryland Family Network to support the launch of Maryland Child Care Boost. This pilot program that will equip select family child care providers with free tools to help them remain fully enrolled, financially sound, and focused on the high-quality care and education of our youngest learners. The announcement comes just after the release of results from a statewide survey of child care providers reporting lower enrollment and increased costs due to COVID-19.
Providers who participate in the Maryland Child Care Boost program will have free access to Wonderschool. Through Wonderschool, providers will be able to create websites, promote their programs in the platform’s marketplace, manage enrollment, schedule events and tours, record business activities and expenses, contact prospective and current families, and access data to gain insights.
They will also be able to tap new supports like financial assistance and discounted tax preparation services. The 18-month program, which is expected to expand over time, will initially serve 60 child care providers across Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Montgomery counties.
The first cohort of providers, who collectively have capacity to serve nearly 500 children, was chosen as part of a competitive application process. Maryland Family Network received 185 applications for the 60 spots. The Wonderschool platform and the support resources provided by Child Care Boost are available in both English and Spanish, making the platform accessible to providers and families where english is not their first language.
“Child care is the backbone of the economy,” said Laura Weeldryer, executive director of Maryland Family Network. “In order to truly recover from the ongoing pandemic, we must do everything in our power to ensure that every child —no matter their zip code — has equitable access to quality care. Making sure child care providers have the tools and resources they need to be successful is a huge step in bringing that equity to every community.
A recent report, “Caring in a Time of Pandemic: Will Maryland’s Child Care Survive COVID-19?,” shows providers across Maryland are facing the dual challenge of dramatically lower enrollment and significantly higher expenses as a result of the pandemic.
Providers reported their monthly expenses have increased by an average of $5,339 per location as a result of new health and safety expenses, like personal protective equipment. At the same time, 79 percent of providers say they’ve experienced a financial loss due to dwindling enrollment, up from 67 percent in April 2020.
The providers who participated in the survey—over 2,000 around the state, including providers from every county—report they are hovering at 59 percent of their licensed enrollment capacity, which is unsustainable. Finally, nearly half of child care providers in Maryland say they may close for good if help doesn’t arrive soon.
Maryland Family Network works to ensure that very young children have strong families, quality early learning environments, and a champion for their interests. Learn more at www.marylandfamilynetwork.org
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