Massachusetts daycare centers fear coronavirus will close them permanently, seek direct help from Gov. Charlie Baker to help with costs, rent

Daycares United, a coalition for Massachusetts child care centers, sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday asking for help as many are unsure they can reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

The 30-signed letter provides the governor with three specific methods to help child care centers pay rent and other costs.

Baker has closed non-emergency child care in the state through June 29.

The first measure outlined in the letter asks Baker to enact a tax refund for commercial landlords to help facilities rent for 90 days. Another rent-related option is for the state to offer a subsidy to landlords to cover rent or implement a mandatory rent moratorium for all child care centers in the state.

The letter also called on the state to establish a grant program to help the industry pay for other costs associated with operating costs.

Finally, the centers asked for a formal plan for reopening daycares.

“We are proud of the leadership you have shown as governor,” the letter read. “However, we need your help.”

Daycares United said about 60% to 80% of daycare costs are directly related to payroll and rent. The Paycheck Protection Program offers rebate loans to small businesses that use at least 75% of the financing for payroll. The money can also be used for rent and other expenses.

Daycares United said PPP loans acted as lifelines for facilities that received approval. But many have not received help.

“For the few of us who have been able to secure PPP funds, we have grabbed a lifeline,” the letter said. “But the majority who did not fear death kneel before a business we have scraped and saved to build, after taking years of toil and risk to survive, only to find it dissipating before our eyes as we let’s watch her fall one way.”

The first round of PPP loans worth $349 billion ran out within weeks of their launch. A second round of loans, worth more than $300 billion in PPP loans, began accepting applications on Monday.

It’s possible, however, that the second round of funding will dry up before the state’s more than 2,300 child care centers receive aid. When the state reopens businesses, there may not be child care centers to offer help to working parents.

“Day care centers are in crisis and under threat of permanent closure across our state,” the letter said. “We need your help so that when we make the inevitable transition to the new normal, child care centers in our communities will still be there to provide service.”

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