I Need Child Care: My Kid’s School Closed Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

It’s all over the news. Coronavirus is crippling our country. The stock market is plummeting, people are scared, companies are closing or conducting business via remote means, schools are closing. Even the National Basketball Association just suspended the rest of its season. However, the impact of all of this hits even closer to home in a very practical way when your child’s school closes and your need for child care increases; especially if you need to work from home and your children are now home, too.

Supply and Demand

Child care is often taken for granted, meaning every working parent knows they need child care typically between the hours after school ends until they return home from work. This is often achieved by after-school care, after-school activities, a babysitter, nanny or family. Some of these options cost little to no money and some are expensive. The point is, before this pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization this week, parents had choices and options in securing their child care. Putting aside the idea that child care may not even be available due to school closures, suspended activities, child caregivers themselves getting sick or not wanting to risk getting sick, the other issue parents face is what the cost of child care will be, if it can be found.

Principles of supply and demand tell us that when a commodity is scarce, the price increases, so it is not unrealistic to think that the cost of child care may increase. Then, because kids are staying home, and if a parent is fortunate enough to be able to keep working during these times, the number of hours of child care needed will increase making the resource even more scarce.

Court Order of Child Support “Add-On” of Child Care Expenses

When people are married or in an intact relationship with children, they can often share the duties of child care during such a difficult time, but what about those parents that are divorced or no longer together? If these parents have already encountered the legal system and have a court order in place about child care, it typically provides that the parents are to share the cost of child care equally.

The law in California states that an additional form of child support called an “add-on”, are such things as uncovered medical expenses for the child, child care, and agreed upon extracurricular activities. These expenses are often shared equally through an order which can provide for an unequal allocation of these expenses. Looking specifically at the issue of child care, the law provides that child care costs “related to employment or to reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills” shall be shared equally unless a different allocation is requested by a party.

While most people are worried about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as a health crisis, many are also worried about the economy as we watch the stock market plummet daily. People are worried about their jobs, so those that have jobs are likely holding tight to their jobs yet now must face the additional challenge of balancing having their kids unexpectedly home during their normal work hours. This means child care expenses are about to increase dramatically for the family.

Cooperate or Seek Help From the Court

People do not need more contention and crisis in their lives at a time like this, so hopefully, when a parent says they need more child care due to a school closure due to the world-wide pandemic, the parents will work together to find a way to seek child care and to share the expense equally in an effort to maintain their employment during these unstable times. If a parent meets resistance from the other parent to the increased cost, it is time to review your court order and assert your rights. When our country returns to normalcy, it is incumbent on that parent to seek court relief for child care reimbursement for the increased cost that had to be incurred due to this massive and unique situation out of everyone’s control.