Coronavirus Impact: Home-based childcare programs searching for answers during shelter-in-place

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Working from her dining room table Heidi Seretan greets her students on her laptop, "Hey Stephen!"

This is what a day in the life of a parent working from home while taking care of their child looks and sounds like.

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"Oh my God, this is maybe the best coffee I've ever had," that's Seretan playing "house" with her four-year-old daughter.

In ordinary times, Marion would be in childcare and mom would be at school teaching her special ed students.

Still, Seretan counts herself as one of the lucky ones with a job.

"I can't imagine not having a pay check so it puts families in a really challenging position," explains Seretan

Mara Newman, a single mom, had to take a week off from work to regroup and learn how to balance both.

"Two hours of work, one hour with him, three hours of work," Newman pointed out.

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She's back at her dining table working full time while taking care of her son.

Here's the stinger - She's still paying a portion of her childcare fees even though she can't use it. She says she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It goes to the teachers, I mean they still need to pay their teachers," said Newman.

Phoebe Hearst Preschool in San Francisco continues to pay their teachers and staff, all 18 of them. The school secured a loan and for years has had a rainy day fund.

"We've taken money to support our staff and then we have money we can now use going forward to support our families so each of our families will now receive in July a Pandemic Tuition Waiver of two-thousand dollars per family," explained Irene Bryne, director of the preschool. If families don't need it, they can return the money. Phoebe Hearst also has extra rooms to practice social distancing once they can reopen.

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In the meantime, most of their 85 students continue to work with teachers online posting creative videos.

But smaller, home-based child care programs have fewer resources. Angelina Guerrero runs "Billy Goats."

"There is no income coming there are no new contracts coming and like any other business it's hard to stay afloat when there is no movement of this funding that is necessary," revealed Guerrero.

The home-based child care programs are always the most vulnerable. As a result of the great recession of 2008, between 10 and 40 percent of these sites in the Bay Area closed permanently.

Gina Fromer is with Children's Council of San Francisco, which supports childcare provides and families.

"Childcare is a societal issue, woman are the most affected by what happens to childcare and in order for us to get back to work we have to keep a stabilized childcare eco system in San Francisco," added Fromer.

She says now more than ever during and after this crisis, these programs need funding and help from state and local governments.

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