Rdella White runs Miss Coco’s Sunshine Daycare from her home in St. Paul. She been a child care provider for more than 30 years.
“I’m still open because several of my parents still work. They are essential workers so I have to stay open for them.” White cares for the children of a school teacher, staff in the sheriff’s department and a lawyer’s office, and another who works in food service.
“I don’t think child care providers were taken very seriously before,” White said. “I think people are seeing how important we are, and the Governor sees that too. We are very important.”
White says she is getting paid some, but not nearly what she was before because she is caring for six fewer children. To make matters worse, her husband is unemployed due to the pandemic.
“It’s very difficult,” she said. “It’s just tough trying to keep everything afloat and keep my daycare going when I’ve lost families. All of a sudden, things were just shut down. You didn’t have a chance to plan. It’s just a shock to your system, you know?”
White did receive an $1,000 Emergency Grant from Think Small – made possible by a generous grant from the Minnesota Council on Foundations Disaster Recovery Fund.
“I am very grateful for that,” White said. “With my income going down, I will use that to pay bills, buy groceries, and maintain my program for the kids who are here.”
White says the families who are no longer coming are hoping to come back. “The only reason they are gone is because of the Coronavirus.” She says parents keep telling her how much their children miss her, which is why she is trying to send photos and FaceTime them when she can. “Sometimes that just makes them sadder. The children are crying and they don’t understand why they can’t go to Miss Coco’s house.”
White says child care providers need to hang on and be strong. Despite the stress of the situation, she remains positive. “You have to be. We’re all in this big maze. Kind of lost. Not knowing when it is going to end, but I can’t allow this to take me down.”