“We enclosed a two-car garage attached to my home and made it into a day care center and it’s a preschool/day care center. The reason I did this is my son Michael was in the one [day care] we had in this town and he wasn’t receiving the proper services he needed. [He] deals with autism and has random seizures. He has immune issues. I thought, ‘You know, I could finish my college degree and I can get certification and I can do a better job than this.’ And just to give other kids a better shot than what mine [had].

“So here I am 22 years later with a degree in early child development and 25 years of autism and special education training and certification. And I welcome all kids, I don’t just pick and choose like some centers do. I take in kids with special needs and children with learning [disabilities] also.”

“I closed my day care on Friday, April 17. I’ve been shut down for a month.

“[They said] as long as I watched essential workers’ children, I could be open, but I could only be open to 25%. I’m licensed for 12. That’s not even enough money to open my doors. So I thought, ‘We’ll wait it out, can’t be [more than a] few weeks.’

“You do what you’re supposed to do, you do what you’re told, you go through all the proper procedures to try to get assistance and help. Right off the bat they said, ‘Well, go ahead and apply for unemployment.’ Well, then when you read the guidelines, I don’t qualify. I’m under the section of sole proprietor, self-employed, gig workers.

“Then I read that we had to wait until May 11 to apply for unemployment because that’s when they were going to have something for us.

“I’m a small business. I’m not a business with five to 25 employees. It’s just one [employee] besides myself, an assistant. So I fall under a different bracket.

“The website is extremely complicated, and I can’t even imagine how some other people maneuver through it. I had a very difficult time. It said, ‘You need to go back [now] and apply for unemployment.’ So I did that, and then of course I had to wait for a denial letter, which came a week or so later. Then I had to go apply on the other part.

“I have not heard anything. You can’t check the website. They provided a phone number to call. It glitches out, it disconnects you. I’ve been on the phone three days in a row for an hour straight on hold and then it just hangs up on me. I’ve waited and waited. There’s no help.

“It’s been a huge effect because my income is 50% of what comes into this house. And I take care of a lot of people.

“We’ve got a hospital outside the town. Those essential workers, they need day care and they’re struggling. I feel bad for them.

“My [clients] that need to work need child care. They don’t have backup, they don’t have help. We’re in a town of 2,800 and there’s no center-based day cares; it’s all home-based or smaller day cares in the town and most of them have closed except for maybe two or three.

“My accountant and I have discussed [the progressive tax] recently and what it would do to my business, how it would affect my business. I will take a big hit.

“I don’t know what the future is for my business. I know I can’t go 150 days [closed]. There’s no way I will survive. I will have to quit something I’ve done for 22 years. I’ll have to hire someone who’s properly trained and knows how to care for him and assist my son. And I’ll have to get a job outside of the house.

“My goal is that children walk away from my center educated, loved and well-rounded so that they can go into the community and be a productive part of society. I have a very close bond with every one of my [clients] because we’re partners in raising these children. And I just want to be able to do that in the state that I was born in and the state I grew up in.

“I’m afraid that if things change drastically, instead of just quitting a business that I’ve loved for 22 years, I will be selling and moving to Missouri. And I don’t want to do that.”

Marilyn Kline-Peacock
Marilyn Peacock Day Care Home
Carthage, Illinois