PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Another business industry dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus is childcare. Now area childcare centers are getting some financial assistance to cope with a drop in enrollment during the pandemic.

Many childcare centers are operating at 50% enrollment or less as so many people are out of work or are working from home.

The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund has extended a short-term lifeline to 54 Philadelphia-area daycare centers in the form of $3,000 grants.

“This is really an important and critical asset. When it’s time to go back to work, for people to go back to work, and to get our economy going again, pre-Ks need to be open,” Jeff Brown with the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund said.

The fund’s board members made the announcement Tuesday morning outside of one of the recipient centers, Overbrook Little Learners.

“Thank you for making sure that we do not close down our business by providing us with the grants necessary to purchase PPE, as well as sustain operations,” said Rasheda Allen with Overbrook Little Learners.

“Financially, it’s been a huge struggle,” said Leslie Spina.

Spina operates five Kinder Academy locations in Northeast Philadelphia.

She spoke to Eyewitness News inside a newly-renovated sixth location that was set to open in partnership with Trinity Church Oxford this year. Those plans are now on hold due to the pandemic.

“This has been quite a blow to the industry. We’ve lost a number of high-quality really amazing providers. There are many more of us who know we only have months left to be able to continue financially,” Spina said.

She says enrollment at her centers is down about 55% and operational expenses are way up.

Even worse, in October, Pennsylvania changed how it pays childcare centers, making it even more difficult for them to cover costs.

“Currently, they are paying us for children who are in seats, as opposed to the pre-pandemic payment system where we were paid for children who were enrolled and the cost of having children in care has gone up by about 40-50%,” said Spina.

Spina says state lawmakers have the ability to change the payment system and provide additional help to childcare providers who are just trying to make it to the other side of the pandemic.

To date, the nonprofit has given out $2.2 million in grants to 751 small businesses. Their goal is to reach 1,000 small businesses by the end of the year.

CBS3’s Trang Do contributed to this report.

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