Robyn Rice is scared. Scared of losing her house and everything she has worked so hard for. “More than half of my income is gone and I was already considered low-income.”
Single and in her early sixties, Robyn Rice has been working with children for 45 years. During that time, she has worked in schools, child care centers, small preschool programs, and in her home. She has three grown children of her own.
“I love my job,” Rice said. “I provide an important service to the community, but to be able to stay open much longer will be a challenge. We need financial help desperately.”
Rice runs a structured preschool program, called Robyn’s Nest, from her Oakdale home. She is still open to care for kids of essential workers, but has lost several families due to the pandemic. Of the 13 children she served, she is down to six, plus her two granddaughters who also live with her.
“People aren’t able to pay for something they aren’t getting. They don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Rice. “Some parents lost their jobs. Some have had their hours cut. I have one child that can’t come because he has a chromosome deficiency and is very susceptible to any sicknesses that may occur at daycare.”
Immune-compromised herself, she is at high risk for becoming terminally ill if she gets COVID-19 which is why she is hesitant to try and bring in any new families right now.
“I feel like this is a no-win situation. I’m hoping for more grant money for child care providers,” said Rice.
She is concerned for family child care providers future. “We offer a one-on-one experience and put a lot of focus on learning and preparing children for kindergarten. It is not a high-paying job, but very rewarding and extremely essential,” Rice said. “Parents can’t work without care for their children, and they need quality care. I hope things will start getting better for all of us.”