Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Operations of private early childhood institutions in jeopardy

Published:Friday | May 22, 2020 | 12:11 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

EARLY CHILDHOOD institutions that are not government-funded have found themselves in a bind, since their business models depend on children attending school, but are not able to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharon Golding, administrator and owner of the Little Ones of Emmanuel Academy in Portmore, St Catherine, said these institutions are mostly dependent on tuition fees, which they have not been able to collect. The school is uncertain how it will proceed.

Golding shared that private institutions do not in any way benefit from government funds.

“In fact, it even goes a little bit further. Corporate entities hardly put cash or kind into private institutions like ours. They gravitate more towards the lower socio-economic communities. The normal everyday challenges we have is that tuition is the only income we can depend on. Of course, we try to be creative and we try fundraising activities, but with COVID-19, it has become more challenging.

“We would have been able to take care of our expenses during the summer based on that summer programme and treat with our staff. All of that being wiped out has impacted us negatively. For March, we were able to take care of our staff and our rental and all of that. However, come April, that was not the case. We had purchased grocery and meats and stuff to serve for over a month. What we did in April was divide up all the groceries and cleaned out our refrigerators to give our staff, and we were also able to give them a stipend. We have 10 persons on staff including a cleaner, a security guard, a caregiver and a cook. The others are teachers. We weren’t able to pay them.”

Karen Brown Reid, who operates the Baby Genius Early Childhood Institute on Brunswick Avenue, Spanish Town, St Catherine, said it has been difficult to pay rent and other overheads.