FORT WRIGHT, Ky. — Christine Fairfield runs the Little Links To Learning child care center in Fort Wright, a facility that had to close due to the governor’s orders March 20.
She said her business has lost more than $150,000 worth of income already, and making matters worse, families need child care more as the state begins to reopen.
"The past three weeks, I have had moms calling me every morning, crying, because their jobs are in jeopardy," Fairfield said. "They’re not able to produce the same amount of work that they’re expected to produce because they’re caring for their toddlers and their infants, and their employers are upset, and they’re afraid they’re going to lose their jobs."
Fairfield said her insurance company denied claims for emergency relief because the closure wasn’t tied to a specific outbreak of cases.
"Without the insurance companies paying us, we’re sinking," Fairfield said. "There’s a lot of centers that are not going to be here at the end of this. And we have this insurance that we pay for but we’re not getting the coverage that we paid for."
Fairfield said she received a little money from the federal CARES Act, but only enough to cover a week’s worth of expenses.
She hasn’t received anything from the state, either.
Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled new guidelines Thursday for child care centers to reopen, starting with in-home child care services June 8 and child care center services June 15.
The new rules for these centers include limits on group sizes of 10 kids per group and other measures to promote social distancing and sanitation.
Fairfield said her business could have been taking those measures all along without closing, but the group limits could impact her ability to pay the bills.
"If you lower my ratio, then you’re lowering what I’m able to pay," Fairfield said.
Beshear said restrictions will be eased as testing and contact tracing efforts expand, but getting back to normal will take a while.
"Until there’s a vaccine, an effective treatment or something that we don’t foresee happening with this virus, we’re not going to be at the same 100 percent capacity that we were before," Beshear said.
Fairfield said reopening slowly may not be worth it for her.
"We don’t know if opening up at all is a good idea," Fairfield said. "And that’s the feeling of most center owners in the state."
A report from the Hunt Institute said Kentucky was one of only four states to close down child care centers completely, except for emergency workers.
Beshear defended his restrictions earlier this week, saying the disease spreads easily among kids in a closed setting.