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The State Is Expanding Childcare Capacity -- But Will Providers Stay Open?

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Now that schools are closed, the state agency that licenses childcare providers is expanding the ability to provide care. But some providers are questioning whether they should take on more kids, or even stay open at all.

An emergency waiver from the California Department of Social Services allows employers to open emergency childcare services, and independent providers to increase the number of kids in their care if there’s a childcare shortage.

The department is also working to create a temporary workforce to staff emergency childcare at high-need employers such as hospitals.

The guidance and licensing waivers issued on Tuesday placed much of the decisionmaking on the providers themselves -- which raised a lot of questions. So many providerstried to join a Department of Social Services conference call Tuesday that it caused technical difficulties.

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Kim Martin, who has run a licensed childcare out of her North Hollywood home for 23 years, was looking for more clarity on whether to keep operating.

“I personally am not going to close unless they tell me, but part of me wants them to tell me to close because I'm a little nervous too,” she said. “There are people who still need care.”

One reason she’s nervous is that she turned 66 this year, making her part of the population more likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus. In addition, she doesn’t believe she would qualify for any kind of unemployment if she closed.