Dayton child care centers struggle with enrollment numbers; Masks still recommended by CDC

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Even though Ohio’s COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the CDC is still recommending child care centers follow mask and other safety protocols.

Owner of The Little Hearts School House in Dayton Elisha Osama said child care providers already had to follow strict guidelines before the pandemic.

“It’s a blessing to have this somewhat in our rear view mirror, the COVID-19 pandemic, however we are still being very cautious,” Osama said.

Since children under the age of 12 can’t get vaccinated, the CDC recommends masks, social distancing and sanitization protocols remain in place in child care settings.

Little Hearts plans to keep several of the COVID-19 guidelines in place.

“For close confines, for masking, for washing hands definitely, for cleaning surfaces, we have really stepped up our game,” Osama said.

Osama said the biggest challenge for child care providers throughout the pandemic wasn’t adhering to guidelines, it was the drop in enrollment.

Little Hearts was lucky to keep all their staff on board, but the drastic drop in enrollment caused them to consolidate their three locations to a single center

Osama said it’s because many parents are still unemployed or working from home.

“A lot of centers in the City of Dayton have either shutdown, or reduced hours or closed their businesses even because of the lack of need for childcare at this time,” Osama said.

Osama said Little Hearts is in the process of opening a second center on the property next door in order to spread out the kids by age group, however even that process has been slowed down by the pandemic.

“We have been actively trying to get the second one going, but we’ve met a lot of resistance from the City of Dayton and the COVID-19 pressures that they have for staffing, so it’s been a huge disserves to us trying to get the paperwork finalized.”

Osama said child care providers are hopeful that with school letting out for summer, they’ll see enrollment some of that enrollment bounce back.

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