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The childcare hiring crisis is shutting down programs and leaving parents out of the workforce


Non-profit organization, primarily serving low income family, has seen its staff drop 30% during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We couldn’t find enough educators willing to come to our classrooms,” said executive director Laura Perille. “Because they can make more money working anywhere but taking care of the kids.”

Nationally, more than 10% of child care workers have leave the industry during the pandemic. Early on, they were put off by temporarily closed programs and related problems. Now, the industry is outpacing the competition for wages.
Nationally, the average babysitter earns 12.24 USD per hour, much less than K-12 teachers. And in this competitive job market, other industries are raising wages and adding benefits to attract workers.

Rhian Allvin, chief executive officer of the National Association for Early Childhood Education, said: “This period of child development is the most important in a person’s life, but we are competing for paid jobs. other minimum. “If you can make more money with a much less demanding job – and I’m talking milkshakes at a fast food restaurant – what’s the motivation?”

Federal pandemic relief is only so far

The Rescue Americans Plan, passed by Congress in March, spent billions of dollars to raise wages and keep the childcare industry afloat, but some programs say that the amount only goes so far.

Kara Turner is the founder of Primary Colors, an early education business in Durham, North Carolina. She used the bailout fund to raise her employees’ wages by more than a dollar an hour, but she still couldn’t find a candidate.

Her staffing was reduced by 45%, forcing her to cut the number of students in half.

“It’s almost like the workforce is exhausted,” says Turner. “It’s very scary. I don’t know what will happen.”

America is helping unemployed parents pay child care while they look for work

Federal funds have given Nurtury a one-dollar-an-hour raise, but Martin Ramos, a Nurtury teacher, still holds a second job at Home Depot.

“I’m living on paycheck to payback,” Ramos said. “And I fell behind on my bills.”

With staff shortages at Nurtury worsening, the school is currently accepting 15% fewer students.

“They will probably be sitting on the waiting list for the better part of 2022,” Perille said.

Impact on working women

Nationwide, about 10% of childcare programs have closed, according to the bipartisan Policy Center. Others are downsizing, and many parents are seeing prices go up and wait lists grow.

“And the parents, mostly women, can’t go back to work,” Allvin said.

ONE Recent surveys found that 84% of parents feel overwhelmed by the cost of childcare and 20% have quit their jobs because of it.

The average annual cost of child care nationally is more than $10,000 per child, according to Child Care Aware of America. For the average couple, that’s about 10% of their income. For single parents, the figure is 35%.

Reshonna Reynolds became a stay-at-home mom when her son was born last year. She earns less than $40,000 per year in Seattle.

Reynolds said: “The babysitting costs more than we do… pay the rent. “So I decided, hey, I have to quit.”

The couple are currently trying to find a daycare so she can return to work, but the waiting list has grown to two years.

“We couldn’t find any daycare,” she said.

Nearly 3 million women, including hundreds of thousands of mothers, are still out of the workforce because of the pandemic.

“And that is really important for future job recovery,” said ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson. “The United States is losing trillions of dollars as women do not participate fully in the labor market.”

In Arizona alone, one Research by the American Chamber of Commerce found that childcare problems are costing the state $1.8 billion each year in “untapped potential.”

“Women cannot fully participate in the labor market as long as there are uncertainties about their childcare infrastructure,” says Richardson.

President Joe Biden’s Better invoice rebuild – passed the House in November but future uncertain in the Senate – will invest nearly $400 billion in childcare, raise workers’ wages, provide free universal preschool for children 3 and 4 years old, and ensure that- families in the class pay no more than 7% of their income for child care.

“Parents can’t pay more,” said Allvin.

Just look at Reynolds and the career she left behind.

“I’m a preschool teacher and I’ve been doing it for 15 years,” she said. “I love it. It’s great, but I can’t afford childcare.”

She’s an early childhood educator, feeling stuck at home, needing the classroom more than ever.

“If you want us to pour for your kids, you have to give us what we need,” she said.

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