Owners prepare to reopen child care centers in Ohio

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 4:07 PM EDT
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Across the state of Ohio, owners of child care centers are preparing for reopening. After being closed for two months, the facilities are allowed to reopen on May 31st.

One of the biggest challenges is reconfiguring spaces to meet the new state guidelines. Under the new mandate, the number of children facilities can service is cut nearly in half.

Michelle Bieber, who owns Over the Rainbow Early Learning Center with locations in Springfield Township and Sylvania, said they before COVID-19 she was serving 230 children. With the new rules, her cap is 127 children. It is going to be an issue across the state.

"Prior to the pandemic that state served approximately 280,000 children. As we move forward, the state will serve 112,000 children," says Bieber.

What happens to the children and families who are left without a spot? Childcare owners and operators simply don't know.

In addition to a lack of space for families, many owners are facing up-front costs to cover modifying classrooms, stocking PPE, and cleaning supplies. With lower enrollment numbers, the amount of cash coming in is also decreased, and for some owners it is a balancing act to see if they can make it work.

"You need to look at everything and ask yourself, is it viable? Is it sustainable? We don't know how long this is going to last," says Bieber.

More than 100 members of the early learning field took part in a virtual roundtable Wednesday hosted by the Toledo Chamber of Commerce. The goal was to give business owners a place to ask questions about reopening and provide resources to any unanswered questions.

For now, Bieber says she will open on June 1 but is preparing to take a loss. She is just hoping that consumer confidence rises and that the restrictions in place by the state are temporary.

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