Daycares struggling to adjust as child enrollment drops during pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Schools across New Mexico are closed, but day cares are not seeing the demand they expected.

“We’re seeing a significant reduction in enrollment right now because everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing which is staying at home,” said Jon Aitken, District Manager for Learning Care Group, which oversees La Petite Academy locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. “Attendance is down probably a little more than 50-percent right now.”

Many parents are working from home, while others have lost their jobs, meaning fewer kids are going into child care facilities. Other day cares around the metro are seeing similar drops in numbers — some only seeing about 10-percent of their regular enrollment. That means lay-offs or teachers having their hours cut, in some cases.

La Petite Academy is working with many of the essential workers like first responders and those in the healthcare industry. They hope these workers know they’re open and keeping the kids in safe hands while they’re at work, serving the community.

“We are still providing that opportunity for essential workers and kids that need that consistency to have a daycare and a safe place for their children to be,” said Brandon Baca, Santa Fe Academy Director for La Petite Academy. “We’re definitely seeing lower ratios right, lower numbers throughout the state. This is the opportunity for us to help where we can and keep a consistent basis.”

Baca says while fewer kids means more one-on-one time with teachers, the teachers still miss their students.

“I can speak for all 14 schools in New Mexico and probably all the schools across the country. We definitely miss them,” said Baca. “They become our kids. They become part of our lives, our daily routines. To not be with them daily and not know what’s going on with them is heartbreaking right now.”

La Petite Academy says it’s ramped up health precautions in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Staff and kids have their temperature checked as they walk through the doors and parents are asked to stay out of the classrooms.

CYFD is also issuing full-time child care assistance contracts for first responders and healthcare providers in need of child care while they work.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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