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Senator Hassan Leads Virtual Roundtable with NH Child Care Providers, Leaders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today led a virtual roundtable where she heard from New Hampshire child care providers and leaders about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of continuing to support child care centers as parents return to work and need safe, reliable child care for their kids.


Senator Hassan began the roundtable stating, “I know that this is a particularly challenging time, and I want to thank all of the early childhood educators here for what you have been doing…We know that we can’t safely reopen without strong early learning for our kids and families.”


Participants discussed how current federal funding is helping child care centers, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that Senator Hassan voted to pass into law and expand. “Singlehandedly the PPP loan was the biggest lifesaver on the planet…We’ve been around for over 50 years, we will hopefully continue, and the PPP was a huge part of that so I do want to thank you so much for that program,” said Marianne Barter, Executive Director of Merrimack Valley Day Care Services and Vice-Chair of the NH Child Care Advisory Council.


Sandra Cabrera from Country Day School in Colebrook discussed how hazard pay that the state set up through funding from the federal CARES Act has helped provide much-deserved support for staff. “The least we can do is have hazard pay,” said Cabrera. Senator Hassan is pushing for an additional COVID-19 relief package that would include hazard pay for essential workers.


Child care providers and leaders across the state also addressed the uncertainty ahead. “People are navigating this as best they can but the uncertainty is so hard. Thank you for your acknowledgment about how so many of the important industries in New Hampshire are dependent on this important industry of child care and early learning…It’s really been a time of great acknowledgment of the importance and essential nature of child care to the economy,” said Jackie Cowell, Executive Director of Early Learning NH.


“I’m really fearful that while we have the summer handled, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall,” shared Mimi O’Connor, Director of the Elliot Child Care Center and Board Member of the NH Association for the Education of Young Children.


Ann Auger of the Coos County Director Network shared concerns over how to “remain fiscally viable when they’re not allowed to have enough kids [enrolled] in order to pay the bills and pay their staff accordingly.”


In order to addresses these concerns and ensure that child care centers have the resources they need to stay open, reopen, and institute necessary safety measures, Senator Hassan discussed her efforts to push for $50 billion in the next COVID-19 relief package that would help stabilize child care centers in New Hampshire and across the country.


Discussing Senator Hassan’s support for this stabilization funding, Cowell said, “The $50 billion that you mentioned that you’re fighting for, please keep fighting…thank you very much.”