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Morning Briefing: Some Kids Head Back To Child Care

Children in a preschool class play while wearing facemasks. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that reopening child care centers will be critical to getting the California economy back up and running. Some facilities started welcoming kids back this week, including the Young Horizons Child Development Center in Long Beach.

Early childhood education reporter Mariana Dale says she was first introduced to Young Horizons at the end of 2019 while working on a story about the difficult economics that go into running an early childhood center. The center closed for over a month due to coronavirus concerns, and reopened to a handful of families on Monday. Dale followed up with them to find out how their first few days went.

Here, she talks about reporting the story, and what comes next for stressed-out parents and caregivers.

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How were the parents you spoke to feeling about sending their kids back to child care?
Universally, parents were just relieved. That was the biggest thing, whether it was parents who had been relying on friends and family who were sometimes in far-flung places to take care of their kids, or one woman whose daughter was at home with her while she was working from home, and it was extremely challenging to have a toddler and simultaneously do her job.

These were families that had already gone to Young Horizons, so I think they trusted that the rules the center had put in place would keep their kids safe.

Was it pretty common for parents to be scrambling and stitching together whatever child care they can while centers were closed?
Yeah, that's often what I've heard from parents. I talked to a woman who’s a doctor and so is her husband. Not only would they usually have daycare, but they also had a nanny. They took their son out of daycare, and thought it would be safer for their nanny not to come anymore. They were just trading off, and sometimes swapping the kid in the car. There are people who are having their parents watch their kids even though they feel really uncomfortable with it.

What about teachers? How are they feeling about reopening?
It's kind of a mixed bag, because they really feel a lot of allegiance and responsibility for the families they serve. But then, they're also feeling concerned about their own health, and about the finances of closing because they need money to live their lives.

The Young Horizons center's first round of openings went to essential workers. Do you have any sense of when more families will be able to get back in, or when more centers will reopen?
There's a couple of different factors. Right now, the guidance that I'm aware of from the state and county is that essential workers should be prioritized when it comes to enrolling families, so I think a lot of providers will be waiting for new guidance before opening more slots. The other question is a mathematical one: even if all of the providers open, under the current ratios, you cannot have the same number of kids in a room as you could before. So they will not have enough space to welcome everyone back under those same guidelines.

And then if you want an even more difficult question, you have some providers that have now been closed for a month or two. Do they have the financial ability to reopen? And I think we don't know yet.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, May 7

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now at least 28,644 coronavirus cases and 1,367 deaths in L.A. County. There are at least 59,698 cases and 2,439 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are over 3.7 million cases and more than 263,000 deaths.

Reopening California: Some L.A. County businesses and recreational spaces can reopen beginning Friday, including hiking trails and golf courses. For child care centers, that means new rules, fewer kids and much more distance. Eight cooling centers are open in L.A. County Wednesday and Thursday for people to ride out the heat wave.

Money Matters: Cal State campuses and auxiliary organizations estimate a total of $337 million of new costs and revenue losses for the 2020 spring term. Santa Monica city officials detailed "cuts at all levels of the organization,” including 250 layoffs and another 126 city workers voluntarily leaving. More than 80 years ago, the U.S. government helped musicians through the Great Depression. Could something similar be implemented today?

L.A. Food Scene: Fishermen and women who harvest sea urchins have had to find new markets for the delicacy overnight. Two online groups — one in English, one in Chinese — launched at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic are helping San Gabriel Valley diners find restaurants.

Managing Relationships: Marriage and family therapist Lance Tango and family law mediator Bill Ferguson spoke to reporter Ariel Zirulnick about navigating the “bubbles” in which we’re currently living, be it with roommates, spouses, co-parents or others. Plus, here are some quick tips and tricks for keeping yourself and your kids sane in the apocalypse.

Mask Mysteries And Criminal Behavior: California wired a novice mask dealer half a billion dollars in mid-March, and was scrambling to get the money back within hours. George Gascon calls on Jackie Lacey to criminally charge an LAPD cop involved in a beating.

Your L.A. Stories: In our first two coronavirus diaries, Bell High School film production and journalism teacher Roy Lansdown reflects on that old chestnut "may you live in interesting times," and Google employee Marjorie Gray says she's grateful to be able to work from home and has been trying to give back. One way she does that? Making puppet shows to help keep her co-workers' kids occupied. Share your story here.

Your Moment Of Zen

A customer buys flowers at the L.A. Flower Market after Garcetti's announcement that wholesale florists could reopen as an exemption for Mother's Day.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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