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GOP governor refuses to help parents who suddenly don't have child care

Gov. Eric Holcomb wants communities to figure it out for themselves even as they struggle with the growing coronavirus outbreak.

By Josh Israel - March 19, 2020
Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-IN)

All public schools in Indiana were shut down on Wednesday as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As parents struggle to find child care, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has refused to do anything to help, urging communities to figure it out on their own.

“Communities are encouraged to work together to provide child care options for all who need assistance and delivery services of meals and other necessities for senior citizens,” he tweeted on Monday.

He had previously dodged the question.

Asked last Tuesday if his administration was doing anything to help workers who needed time off because their children were out of school or sick, Holcomb answered that “fortunately we live in a state with world-class hospitals, with world-class doctors, employers that understand we’re all going through this together and that’s where we’ll derive our strength and that’s where we’ll get through this.”

He said the state was “remarkably prepared” for COVID-19 and that each employer should work with employees.

Last week, his health commissioner also suggested people needed to figure out child care for themselves. “I understand that there are going to be people that have critical jobs, and they need to go to their jobs, and they may now have three children who they can’t leave at home all day,” Kris Box said. “So, maybe the neighbor or someone else in the family can help to watch the children.”

Holcomb’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about what families should do about child care.

Meanwhile, a local news outlet reported that Indiana parents have taken to Facebook seeking child care during this crisis and a number of unlicensed “cheap” daycare services are being advertised.

This is not an entirely new problem. A 2018 study by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute found the lack of early child care and education in the state was costing it nearly $1.1 billion each year.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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