Childcare staffing shortage making it hard for parents to go back to work

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:35 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 12:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The childcare industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, making it difficult for many parents to find childcare so they can go back to work.

Panu Lucier with Alaska SEED said research has shown that one in four women have left the workforce due to the impact of the pandemic, including a lack of childcare for families. Across the country, more than 2 million women have left the workforce — the lowest number of women in the workforce since 1988.

“Childcare is everybody’s business, if we are going to address and resolve a systematic issue related to childcare crisis that will allow parents to go back to work,” Lucier said.

Some of the reasons women have reportedly left the workforce include pay, retirement, lack of benefits, and some just deciding to stay home, according to Lucier, which she says have hurt the childcare industry.

Sean Shawcross, with the Carousel Child Care Center, said the center gets anywhere from five to 10 calls a day from parents looking for childcare but can’t find anything available.

“I would love to have a full complement of staff, and as many kiddos, as we can accommodate, people need childcare. I think people really have realized how many people can’t go back to work, because there’s no childcare spaces available,” Shawcross said.

Shawcross said before COVID-19 hit the childcare facility had around 112 kids and over 20 employees, but now they only have 84 kids because they can’t find workers to balance out the child to caretaker ratio needed. Shawcross said they also have about 25 kids on the waitlist.

“I’ve had multiple calls that you can tell, sometimes people are just looking for childcare. I’ve had parents that have ‘literally, you’re the fifth daycare I have called’ and you can hear the desperation that they want to work. They want to do something, and I can accommodate them, so it’s sad,” Shawcross said.

Shawcross said the center currently has 13 employees, but will continue to look for more so they can help parents go back to work. The last thing he wants to do is raise prices, he added.

“We haven’t increased yet, but we probably are going to have to because I can’t get more employees in the door, and then the employees that I have here are all working 50-60 hours a week,” Shawcross said.

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