By Allister Chang and Katherine Kempe
Six licensed early learning programs at child care centers in Georgetown have reopened or will reopen soon. The British School of Washington, 2001 Wisconsin Ave. NW, and Early Steps Bilingual Preschool of Georgetown, 3222 O St. NW, reopened on Aug. 31. Bright Horizons at Georgetown, 1010 Wisconsin Ave. NW; Little Folks School, 3247 Q St. NW; the Children’s House of Washington, 3133 Dumbarton St. NW; and French Maternal School, 3224 N St. NW, are reopening this month.
Space for early learning and child care spots in Georgetown, however, will remain limited. According to James Gilroy, head of school at Little Folks School, “Our school does plan to reopen in September. However, due to D.C.’s Phase Two guidelines and decreased class sizes, among many health and safety considerations, we have fulfilled our enrollment for this school year.”
Facing increased costs associated with cleaning, personal protective equipment and smaller class sizes, several child care providers are not planning to offer in-person child care services this fall. The website of Hoya Kids Learning Center, 3624 P St. NW, states that the center will be closed until further notice. The Georgetown Montessori School, 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW, will be opening virtually for the fall semester, while the Georgetown Visitation Child Development Center, 1524 35th St. NW, does not plan to reopen until April of 2021.
D.C. may lose 20 percent of its child care supply, “limiting access to licensed child care for families with young children and infants,” according to the DC Early Learning Collaborative. The Learning Policy Institute observes that “thousands of child care centers and family child care homes are now in danger of closing permanently.”
“It’s a very challenging time for working parents,” says Georgetown resident Merissa Khurma. “I want to know that my child will be taken care of in a safe way, in a clean space, without too many children in the same area, and that there’s a plan for what would happen if anyone were to get sick.”
In order to put such measures in place, the Under 3 Coalition has requested $10 million in grants to support early learning programs in child care centers and homes. On July 21, the District Council approved $5 million in emergency grant funding in the fiscal year 2020 supplemental budget to support qualified providers. It remains to be seen whether this support will be available to Georgetown-based child care centers.
Georgetown resident Allister Chang is a visiting researcher at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Katherine Kempe has 15 years of experience in early childhood education policy and advocacy campaigns, most recently as project manager for the Power to the Profession initiative.