Metro day cares struggling as many parents become stay-at-home teachers

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — Many child care centers are in danger of closing for good because of the pandemic.

One metro space stayed open during the shutdown, but staff said they’ve lost more than half their families. 

Child Care Aware of Missouri is a nonprofit that worked to collect information across the state after the start of the pandemic.

It reported almost half of the child care centers in Missouri have closed. Some have reopened, but many families are keeping kids at home because they can’t afford it anymore or because of the virus risk.

This means many parents are now stay-at-home teachers, too, and actual teachers are in trouble.

“It’s like, bam, it just came out of nowhere that this pandemic hit,” said Patricia Elmore, who runs Miss Tricie’s Little Angels Learning Center in Blue Springs.

Elmore said she had 25 families enrolled at her facility, but now, they only have about a dozen. She didn’t have to close her doors but came close.

“I really feel for people that are going through that because even our families that thought we were going to close, you know, they, I really felt for them,” Elmore said.

Most day cares are normally on a waitlist, but the pandemic flipped that on its head.

“You have to make a decision and have a deadline to make the decision, whether you’re going to let your kids go to school or come to day care centers, or stay at home and maintain their safety,” Elmore said.

Industry experts predict that one-third to one-half of child care centers may not reopen at all. “Miss Tricie” is praying she doesn’t become part of that statistic. 

Child Care Aware works to connect parents with resources: locating child care, finding financial assistance, plus access to health and social service organizations.

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