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WASHINGTON (AP) — Five months after they were postponed because of the coronavirus, the annual Kennedy Center Honors are coming back in May, possibly in a series of small events, organizers announced Wednesday.

This year’s recipients of the lifetime artistic achievement awards are country music legend Garth Brooks, dancer and actress Debbie Allen, violin virtuoso Midori, folk music icon Joan Baez and actor Dick Van Dyke.

The centerpiece event for Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts normally happens in December, but it was postponed last year amid the pandemic. Now the center plans to hold some sort of commemorative event or series of events in mid-May.

Planners envision “multiple events for physically distant audiences” across the center’s campus, according to a statement, which said there would be filming from May 17 to May 22. The entire campus “will come alive with small, in-person events and re-envisioned virtual tributes.”

The awards program typically centers around a gala in the Kennedy Center’s main theater that includes tributes and performances that are kept secret from the honorees. But even with COVID-19 vaccines gradually rolling out across the country, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter knew the usual concert would not be possible in May.

“We’re clearly not going to have 2,000 people in an enclosed space for three hours,” she said. “But I think we’ve come up with some really great ideas.”

The official announcement leaves plenty of room for improvising and last-minute adjustments. It simply states that “the viability of additional in-person events will be considered as COVID-19 safety protocols evolve over the upcoming months.”

For this year’s honorees, it’s a chance to be part of a historically unique ceremony, and some hoped it would prove therapeutic to participants and viewers. The event will be televised on CBS on June 6.

“I think it will feel like a return to something — not total normality, but something,” Allen told The Associated Press. “It’s normally such a festive event, and I’m sure that will come across.”

Brooks is no stranger to the Kennedy Center Honors process. He has performed as part of tributes to James Taylor, Loretta Lynn and Billy Joel. His wife, Trisha Yearwood, performed last year in 2019 to honor Linda Ronstadt.

“Just getting the call was such a thrill,” Brooks said in an interview with AP. “Whatever it is, it’s going to be cool.”

Midori said she’s “truly curious” to see what programmers come up with and hopes the event “represents a step toward normality.”

Van Dyke joked that the Kennedy Center “just made it” by granting him the honor at age 95.

“I’d certainly love to go in person,” he told the AP. “I ain’t leaving without that medal.”

Baez said she hopes circumstances allow for “a gathering of actual people” and that this will be the first ceremony in four years that includes participation from the president.

The election of Donald Trump threw the event into turmoil, with multiple honorees threatening to boycott in 2017 if Trump were involved. Trump and first lady Melania Trump generally stayed away from Kennedy Center events, but Rutter hopes to get President-elect Joe Biden involved this year.

Baez said this year’s ceremony could represent the closing of two dark historical chapters. “Not just the virus, we’ll be coming out of the political dark ages,” she said.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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Parents in this Midwestern state pay the most for childcare

Amid access hurdles, grassroots efforts underway to get COVID-19 vaccine to at-risk people of color Parler website appears to be back online and promises to resolve any challenge before us Parents in this Midwestern state pay the most for childcare © kate_sept2004 kids and dad

Child care costs were already high pre-coronavirus pandemic, but they’ve only gotten more expensive. The COVID-19 crisis is costing center-based child care providers an extra 41% annually per child — $14,117, up from $9,977 pre-pandemic. The spike in costs for these care providers impacts households with children younger than 5 especially hard.

To find the full extent of that impact, LendingTree researchers used Center for American Progress data on costs for center-based child care providers and data from Child Care Aware of America on household child care costs to quantify the effect on households.

Key findings
  • Indiana households with children younger than 5 put 20% of their income — on average — toward child care, the highest in the U.S.
  • Center-based care providers for children ages 3 and 4 face an additional 57% in annual costs compared to before the pandemic. For infants and toddlers (children 2 and younger), annual costs for center-based care providers are up 37%.
  • Georgia, Florida and Louisiana center-based care providers have seen the largest increases for children ages 3 and 4 — an annual average of at least 144%.
  • New Jersey, Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas and North Dakota households with children younger than 5 put 11% of their income — on average — toward child care, lowest in the U.S.
Annual costs spike 41% per child for center-based care providers amid coronavirus pandemic

A 2020 LendingTree survey found that more than half of parents with young children were in debt because of the coronavirus crisis. The crisis is costing center-based child care providers an additional 41% yearly per child compared to pre-pandemic costs, which could be causing added strain on household budgets as those costs get passed on.

A large cost for care centers is staffing. In fact, personnel expenses account for about 70% of a child care provider’s total budget, according to the Center for American Progress. Those costs have increased as the pandemic has continued. Of course, there are added costs of conforming to COVID-19 guidelines.

“Keeping kids safe during a pandemic isn’t cheap,” said Matt Schulz, LendingTree’s chief credit analyst. “So much more is being required of these centers during the pandemic, and these new, tougher safety guidelines from governmental agencies have forced them to ramp up their spending in order to comply.”

Social distance guidelines may also have shrunk the capacity for many child care centers. That can translate to less revenue per child — so an increase in cost per child makes sense. “Many day care [centers] have few options other than raising costs for parents in order to recover some of that lost revenue,” Schulz said.

3- and 4-year-olds costing center-based care providers more than infants and toddlers

There are some widespread differences — by state — in the cost increases per child for center-based care providers for both infants and toddlers, as well as 3- and 4-year-olds.

For the most part, costs increased more for center-based providers taking care of 3- and 4-year-olds, though some states saw a larger increase for infants and toddlers. Overall, the costs per child for these centers — looking at both age groups — have increased by 47% during the pandemic. But location also has a large impact on the increases.

For example, District of Columbia care centers had the smallest annual increase in costs for 3- and 4-year olds and the second-smallest yearly increase for infants and toddlers. However, D.C. also had one of the highest pre-COVID-19 child care center costs per child, at $15,576.

Meanwhile, center-based care providers in Ohio and Louisiana saw the largest yearly increases per child for infants and toddlers, with an average increase of more than 90% for each. Of interest, Louisiana had the lowest pre-COVID-19 child care center costs per child, at $6,546, but that figure jumped to $13,810 per child amid the pandemic — nearly $6,000 per child more than the lowest state (South Carolina, at $7,956).

Indiana and Vermont households with kids younger than 5 put highest percentage of income toward child care

Indiana and Vermont top the list, with 20% and 19%, respectively, of household income going to center-based child care costs.

Looking at the other end of this list, five states tied for the lowest percentage (11%) of income toward care, including New Jersey, Kentucky and North Dakota. Interestingly, even though households in these states pay the smallest percentage of their income toward child care, they soon may experience larger increases to their child care bills — the average care center costs increased over 50% in those states. Those rising costs can create issues for parents who want, or need, to keep their kids in day care.

“For many parents, removing a kid from their day care is the last option they’d want to consider, especially if the kid is thriving, learning and making friends there,” Schulz said. “Still, you may not have a choice. If you simply can’t afford your current child care anymore, shop around. You might be able to find a new center that works for you.

“However, the unfortunate reality for many American families is that one of the few realistic ways to reduce costs on child care is to have one of the parents stay home with the child full time.”

How to budget for child care amid the coronavirus crisis

Making changes to your child’s daily care situation is always tough — but it’s especially difficult now, when factors like safety and increasingly high costs play a more significant role. For those who don’t have any options, here are some steps that can help make child care a reality:

  • Look for areas to trim back: “If you can’t reduce [child care] costs significantly, your best move may be to try and budget for the extra costs,” Schulz said. “Depending on how much the child care costs have risen, you may simply need to cut back on some extras, such as streaming services or takeout, or you may need to cut more deeply.”
  • Consider increasing your income: Look into other opportunities to make money — if possible using your existing skills. For example, freelancing or getting a local part-time job can be great options. Make sure you have enough time to dedicate to that job to make it worthwhile.
  • Ask if there are ways to lower your child care costs: As with any necessity, asking if there are options for lowering payments is something to consider. Explaining your circumstances, like a job loss or reduced hours, can work in your favor. With smaller facilities, offering skills — like bookkeeping or building a website — may provide a way to barter for lower costs.
  • Consider debt consolidation: If you have existing debts, a debt consolidation loan can be a good option to lower your monthly costs, provided you have solid credit. However, keep in mind that this can increase your long-term costs, so weigh the pros and cons before going forward.
  • Check with your state for child care grants: Many state governments have recognized the immense toll that the pandemic has had when it comes to child care, enacting financial assistance programs to help families manage. The level of assistance and qualifications will vary by state, but it’s still worth considering if you’re having trouble paying for child care amid the crisis.
Methodology

LendingTree researchers analyzed a September 2020 report from the Center for American Progress on costs for center-based child care providers.

2019 household child care cost data is via Child Care Award of America. Cost estimates were averaged across states and compared to average 2019 incomes for households with children younger than 5, via the U.S. Census Bureau.

For this study, infants are younger than 1, while toddlers are 1 or 2 years old.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


Gallery: 6 events that could drain your retirement savings (Mediafeed)

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Full screen 1/7 SLIDES © AlbertPego/ iStock Are your retirement savings safe?

Two-thirds of workers across three generations – millennials, Generation X and baby boomers – are confident they’ll be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, according to "What is 'Retirement?' Three Generations Prepare for Old Age," a 2019 survey of workers published by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, a nonprofit foundation based in Los Angeles.

You may think you’ve got retirement covered with savings in retirement and other accounts. However, whether you’re nearing retirement age or already enjoying retirement, unexpected expenses due to aging, along with shifting economic and cultural factors, can derail, or at least curtail, your financial plans for retirement.

Continue on to learn 6 surprise costs that can strike a disabling blow to retirement savings.

2/7 SLIDES © Maksim Labkouski/ iStock 1. Long-term care costs

Even if you’re healthy now, someone turning 65 today has nearly a 70% chance of needing long-term care services or supports in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Around 20% will need long-term care support for longer than five years.

How long would it take for national annual median costs (according to the 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey) for a home health aide ($52,624), assisted living facility ($48,612) or a private room in a nursing home ($102,200) to wipe out your retirement savings, especially if your spouse also needs long-term care? 

In most cases, Medicare won’t cover those costs for more than a few months. Medicaid may pay for long-term care but usually only if your income or total assets are below state eligibility requirements. If you carry long-term care insurance, retirement savings are more likely to be spared.

3/7 SLIDES © grinvalds/ iStock 2. Health insurance

For those looking to retire before age 65 and Medicare eligibility, monthly health insurance premiums could be one of your biggest expenses. The average monthly cost for an Affordable Care Act “silver” policy for someone 60 to 64 years old is between $1,016 and $1,123 per month, according to ValuePenguin. 

Approximately 14% of those surveyed in the University of Michigan’s 2019 National Poll on Health Aging survey said they kept a job specifically to have health insurance through an employer. Around 11% delayed or considered delaying retirement to have health insurance through their job.

Unless you have an employer retirement package that includes health insurance, plan on paying high health insurance premiums until you’re eligible for Medicare. You may find that toughing it out for a few more years at your job is worth the savings.

4/7 SLIDES © eakrin rasadonyindee/ iStock 3. Caregiving for an aging family member

An aging parent or spouse who needs care or more attention can increase your expenses, possibly for several years. Expenses can include travel costs, helping with caregiver wages, paying for home modifications to accommodate mobility issues, and time away from work if you’re not yet retired.

More than half of family caregivers must take time off from their job, reduce work hours or quit their jobs to accommodate caregiving responsibilities, according to the AARP report Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket. 

Of those surveyed, around 3 in 10 dipped into personal savings, 1 in 6 reduced the amount set aside for retirement, and more than 1 in 10 withdrew from retirement savings, according to the report.

Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/7 SLIDES © bedo/ iStock 4. National economic crisis

When the stock market crashed in 2008, U.S. retirement accounts lost around $2.7 trillion, 31% of their peak value, in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Urban Institute. 

The combined peak loss from plummeting stock and home values cost the average U.S. household nearly $100,000, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The decline in stock values alone cost around $66,000 on average per U.S. household, according to that organization’s findings.

6/7 SLIDES © DGLimages/ iStock 5. Adult children who move back in

Years after adult children leave their parents’ home to pursue a career, find love or just get away from Mom and Dad, some return, decades later, jobless, divorced and/or deeply in debt.

A life events survey by Fidelity Investments found that 1 in 9 baby boomer parents surveyed said their “boomerang” kids moved back home in the past year. Around 76% of those parents said they faced higher expenses because of the familial tenant.

7/7 SLIDES © Highwaystarz-Photography/ iStock 6. Millennials who won’t move out

Many millennials live with their parents well beyond high school and college, delaying moving out for years, if they ever move at all. Roughly 1 in 3 adults aged 21 to 37 don’t gain financial independence from their parents until they’re 25 or older, according to a survey by Country Financial Security Index. 

More than one-third of millennials still live with their parents, the survey found. According to the survey, other expenses parents may foot for grown millennial children include cell phone (41%), groceries and gas (32%), rent (40%) and health insurance (32%).

This article originally appeared on Debt.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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