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Utah ranks high among children to lose childcare as federal programs expire

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 27, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Over 70,000 child care programs nationwide are projected to shut down and Utah is one of the five states at the top of that list, according to the Century Foundation.

Utah is just days away from what industry professionals are calling a “child care cliff”: a sudden drop-off of federal funds after years of pandemic assistance.

“It’s been stressful. It’s been painful,” said Gloria Rodriguez, co-owner of the Little Geniuses Learning Center.

Daycares like the Little Geniuses are scrambling to figure out what to do.

The money they received from the American Rescue Plan Act’s child care stabilization grant program ends on Sept. 30.

“It saved our center basically and it saved many centers. It saved families by having access to childcare,” said director Andrea Becaria.

According to the Century Foundation, Utah is one of six states where the number of licensed programs could be cut by half or more.

“I heard from a lot of business owners they’re closing,” said Rodriguez. “Starting next month they’re starting to close their doors for these families.”

According to a survey by, only a little over a quarter of parents have a back-up childcare plan. 67% of parents said it will take at least a month to find a new daycare, and 87% of them are willing to spend more if their center closes.

“I think there needs to be a lot more of a movement to keep advocating for our kids,” said Becaria.

Little Geniuses has already had to make cuts and will probably have to increase tuition to stop teachers from leaving.

“In the end, we’re talking about children. So it will affect the children and that’s what we don’t want to do,” said Rodriguez.

The daycare plans on participating in a “stroller rally” at the Utah State Capitol to try and convince lawmakers to help Utah’s childcare system. The event is on Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon.