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Marlboro Township Public Schools closed after reports of bomb threats.

Owners of some day cares say they feel cheated by the state for being forced to close

New Jersey is helping to pay for child care for some essential workers. It is helping to give a boost to some day care centers. But the owners of other centers say that it is leaving them in a bad financial spot.

News 12 Staff

May 12, 2020, 2:24 AM

Updated 1,437 days ago

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New Jersey is helping to pay for child care for some essential workers. It is helping to give a boost to some day care centers. But the owners of other centers say that it is leaving them in a bad financial spot.
Bells Little Learners in Paramus has been empty for over a month after most day care centers were ordered to shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s really frustrating, especially because the state of New Jersey is basically telling my customers to go to another school,” says owner Stacie Bell.
Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all day care centers to close in March, except for those centers that would care exclusively for the children of essential personnel.
But the state gave the day care centers only five days to decide if they could comply. Bell says that she did not think that she had enough essential families to cover the cost of the mortgage and workers at three of her locations. So, she waited.
“I thought we would then be allowed to apply to open for our essential families, because the state was telling us, ‘Go to your bank, get your mortgage differed, get your [Paycheck Protection Plan] loan,” says Bell.
Bell says that she did all of this, but has not yet been cleared. Meanwhile, around 600 other day cares moved on the plan right away to say open for essential workers. And the state is sending them business.
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“At that point, I didn’t know there would be an emergency child care program. I didn’t know the state would assist the day cares that stayed open and helped to find the program, but I knew I had to stay open,” says Tirusha Dave, owner of Ellie’s Academy in Somerville.
Dave says that her gamble paid off and she went from about 10 kids from essential families to 30.
“We serve children as young as 6 weeks up until 5 years old, and we’ve also taken in some of the school-aged children for the siblings that come here,” says Dave.
Bell says that she wishes that she just applied and stayed opened and figured it out from there. But she says that the state needs to do a better job at communicating.
“Hit or miss, like you were getting more information on Facebook then you were actually getting form the state of New Jersey,” she says.
Bell says that it has taken her decades to build her business and that she fears that she will lose it all.
The Department of Children and Families says that the hope was to help essential workers find child care, not to favor one business over another. It was not clear when all day cares would be able to reopen.


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