This spring, as Massachusetts mandated all child care programs and schools to close, the already-fragile child care sector was pushed further into crisis. A powerful video compilation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation features testimonies from child care providers across the nation who share what this has meant for them as they continue to serve children during the pandemic.
In April, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) asked the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) to create a technical assistance (TA) initiative to increase early childhood education and out-of-school time (ECE/OST) access to federal small business loans, specifically the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), in order to help businesses stay afloat. Children’s Investment Fund assembled a team to provide one-on-one technical support to the child care field, consisting of several partners:
- CliftonLarsonAllen, an accounting firm
- Clarendon Early Education Services, a family child care system
- Goodwin Procter’s pro bono Neighborhood Business Initiative
- Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) staff
From April to August, the team provided emergency technical assistance to 278 child care providers in Massachusetts. More than 70% of the programs were women-led businesses and 68% of them were family child care businesses, which the National Association for the Education of Young Children reported to be less likely to gain access to PPP loans than center-based programs. 116 providers (42%) received technical assistance in Spanish or Portuguese. CIF collaborated with Accion East, which was able to process several PPP loans for family child care providers that often could not easily apply through a more traditional bank. CIF also partnered with EEC and the technical assistance team to host four webinars and continuously updated FAQs for the field to reflect the latest guidance. One-fifth of the 278 providers had already applied for PPP when they contacted CIF and had questions about how to use the loan.
Although this TA work is currently coming to a close, CliftonLarsonAllen will provide accounting services to a number of providers that have requested assistance with the PPP’s loan forgiveness process. In October, the Small Business Administration released a streamlined loan forgiveness application for those borrowers with loans under $50,000, which will help reduce the administrative burden for many child care providers as well as for their lenders, but all providers must calculate their forgiveness in order to certify that the funds were spent on eligible purposes.
In July, the DC-based organization Bipartisan Policy Center analyzed PPP funding to the child care sector across states, finding that Massachusetts brought in the sixth-highest total of PPP funding for child care in the nation—1,153 loans to child care entities, for a cumulative estimated total of up to $166 million. The majority of the loans (967 loans) were under $150,000, with an average amount of $40,784. In May, the Fund surveyed providers that had received its PPP technical assistance. Providers expressed their appreciation for the technical assistance effort, including a center in Metro Boston that said, “I think this partnership and support has been outstanding and critical at a time when we needed it the most. I hope it can continue in some way, especially knowing that most of us cannot afford to pay for such services but our programs would greatly benefit from the expertise!”
Children’s Investment Fund was pleased to be able to mobilize technical assistance for the ECE/OST field and continues to seeks ways to support providers as they continue to navigate this new era. Many thanks to the partners that dedicated countless hours to this effort—in particular technical assistance partners CliftonLarsonAllen, Clarendon Early Education Services, and Goodwin Procter and the EEC for allocating funds for these important TA services.