Yesterday, I sent you a letter outlining impacts of the suspension of services at the CFDC. I thank you for those who shared your stories and support of the Center. I want to respond to some of the questions and concerns you shared in your emails to me.
CFDC services are presently suspended, so yes, the center is closed. We closed in March after most of our families made the decision to keep their children home. We honored those decisions and families’ personal needs to remove their children from the CFDC.
This was also the time the college moved to online learning and remote work because of the public health risks of people being in close proximity to one another. For all but emergency purposes, the NHTI campus is closed at the present time.
The CFDC was purpose-built for early childhood education. We have every intention of ensuring it continues to do so. We do feel it’s important to explore options for the structure of the CFDC, since its expenses exceed its revenue by about $280,000 each year. This was a concern before the pandemic, and finding solutions had been put on hold as we all needed to respond to that crisis.
We are not able to pay employees when there is no work for them to do. There is no type of “leave status” for this situation. We did assign/approve alternate work for staff for several weeks. But there is no more alternative work for those staff members to do. We do have a recall provision for employees in the contract.
Guidance to date indicates that CARES Act or other federal stimulus funds cannot be used to make up for revenue shortfalls (the loss of tuition revenue) or to pay expenses that had been budgeted before the pandemic’s impact (such as regular wages). As we receive additional guidance, we will review how we might make use of this funding. We might have been able to use funds to establish an emergency site at the CFDC, but that would have been for children of first responders and other essential personnel.
With the uncertainty of the times, unfortunately, we don’t have a timeline on when this might happen as it is dependent on the mitigation of the virus as a public health concern and the closure of the Alternative Care Site that was established to house Covid-19+ patients at NHTI. We don’t know when the campus will reopen to college students and employees or when CFDC families will be ready to return their children to childcare. It looks like K-12 students in New Hampshire will remain at home for the rest of the academic year – which is into June. Unfortunately, we all must deal with some uncertainty, and I know this is very hard when it comes to the mater of childcare for your family.
It’s our responsibility to see if there are more cost-effective ways to operate as we look at the future. The CFDC is s a special place. It’s been a lab school for NHTI students and has modeled best practices in early child education for nearly 20 years. That said, the financial imbalance is significant and is more than a matter of raising rates or making small expense adjustments. We are looking at alternative models to operate and to serve the needs of the lab school as well as your children’s care. We plan to work with our regional childcare community to see if there are solutions that will maintain CFDC as a best-practices early child education resource for students, families and the community. While the pandemic makes it challenging to communicate and share information as we would like to – through face-to-face meetings, I will keep you informed and seek your feedback as this exploratory work evolves.