Guiding your life’s biggest financial moments

Small Business

Help Wanted: U.S. Child Care Crisis Fueled By Child Care Workforce Shortages

Jessica Duckett’s Teddy Bear Daycare and Kindergarten are feeling firsthand the effects of the country’s hiring crisis. At her Fairfax, Va. Location, Duckett said she was missing up to six employees and only had 60 of the 109 children enrolled, simply because she didn’t have the staff to help her. take care of them.

Duckett said sometimes candidates don’t even bother to show up. Others are unqualified or looking for a salary they cannot afford if they want to cut costs for parents. It offers average salaries ranging from $ 13 to $ 14, free staff child care and benefits at its two locations.

“There isn’t really a hiring situation,” Duckett said. “We interview people who are not really qualified. People apply but don’t show up for interviews, people come to interviews accepting the job, but without checking their background.”

The lack of child care workers creates a larger ripple effect in the overall economy, keeping parents unemployed, exacerbating the wider shortages felt in almost every industry. Affordability is another issue for many parents, with some industry advocates looking to President Joe Biden’s economic plan that would provide government funding for preschools and daycares as a potential boost.

A recent survey of more than 7,500 people interviewed in daycares and homes across the country found labor shortages in almost every state, with some as high as 90%. Many said that as a result, they are taking fewer children to care for, according to a nationwide survey in August by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

“If I enroll more children to pay more staff and increase the salary, [for some] people still aren’t enough, people still don’t apply, people always leave. And then I have children who don’t have a guardian, and that puts families in a bad spot. So it’s almost like a double-edged sword, ”Duckett said.

The jobs report released on Friday showed a mixed picture with the non-farm workforce increasing only 210,000 in November, although the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.2% from 4.6%.

NAEYC data shows wages are a huge problem – up to 80 percent of workers in some states cite wages as the reason they left the child care industry. Some are leaving the field in search of opportunities at larger companies like Amazon or Starbucks.

Others choose to enter the school system, working in teaching assistant positions and beyond, as there is also a labor shortage there, according to Cindy Lehnhoff, director of the National Child Care Association. .

“It’s really hard work. It’s very demanding – think of yourself spending eight hours a day with 10 three-year-olds, and what kind of physique that requires. Then there’s the part. mental, just keeping up with the behaviors and emotions, which have been really difficult over the last year due to the stress in most homes, ”said Lehnhoff of the daily toll the work takes on the remaining workers in the workplace. ‘industry.

And even beyond the struggle for workers, child care is prohibitive for many parents across the country.

Lehnhoff said the average ratio at licensed centers is one caregiver for every four small children and one for every 10 once they get to kindergarten. Families can request more than 50 hours of care per week, which means a full-time worker cannot cover the classroom for such a long day.

Another staff member is needed to cover overtime. This, together with the rental of facilities, food and supplies, is costly to run the centers. The stimulus money will help cover some costs for the centers until 2024, but more will be needed to reduce costs for families and attract enough workers.

President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda has a large allocation of money that Lehnhoff said would be a major victory if the plan comes to fruition – $ 400 billion for child care, including funding for licensed facilities and reduced costs for families, as well as an investment in the pre-universal -K.

“It would give the middle class the opportunity to receive some support. A lot of our middle class parents have been forced into unlicensed child care and typical child care situations. So there are no regulations. , there is no education, ”Lenhoff said.

As the industry waits to see if the administration’s fundraising plan becomes a reality, Duckett said the thing that kept her awake the night after last year was the sanity of her staff at a time when centers across the country were exhausted.

“March 2022, we’ve been doing this for two years. And it’s a long time to be kind of like under duress. And you’re looking for that moment to breathe. And I’m not sure we’ve had that moment since. a long time, ”Duckett said.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply