Day care closure leaves parents questioning where kids will go

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 7:58 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Single working mother Alicia Adams started early looking to find a daycare for her newborn son several years ago.

“I started about a month or so before I finished maternity leave,” Adams said.

But finding a reliable daycare for her son was a struggle. Adams checked out numerous centers, trying to find the best fit for her new family. Yet, many she encountered had the same problem.

“One of my struggles was the fact that majority of them — if not all of them — that I looked into had waitlists,” Adams said.

Then miraculously, Adams said, she found Kreative Kids, a day care center in midtown Anchorage that was a perfect fit for her son. However, the same struggle Adams faced two and half years ago is back after finding out the center will be closing.

Kreative Kids informed families on Oct. 31 that their doors would be closing, after learning the previous week that they were being shut down due to numerous complaints.

“So, it’s disheartening to see it go. I know these people, love these kids. I know that I love these kids and they’re safe here with me. So to have somebody tell me that’s not true, is heartbreaking,” Kreative Kids teacher Tori Dringenberg said.

According to Dringenberg, the center faced 18 complaints, but they were able to appeal some of them. The Municipality of Anchorage said they are not able to confirm any details during the appeal process. According to attorney Jessica Willoughby, who is working on the case, the information will be provided to the public after the process is complete.

The closing of the faculty now leaves Adams and around 50 other families who have children attending the day care in search of a new facility. The search, they say, is yielding few results.

“So right now, all of our parents have either come to us saying they’re unsure what they’re going to do,” Dringenberg said. “They have called a whole bunch of other centers in town, and there is just no room.”

Lack of availability has been a common issue the day care industry has faced for decades. For years, Alaskans have encountered a child care shortage, according to Thread, a child care resource and referral network in Anchorage. The situation, they said, is a major issue in Anchorage where demand surpasses the supply available.

“There’s always been a struggle for access to child care, to affording childcare — childcare can be very expensive,” Thread CEO Stephanie Berglund said.

Berglund said the situation got worse during the pandemic, then worsened once parents began to return back to work.

“We’ve seen some of our largest centers close across the community, which has made the supply even tighter,” Berglund said. “Child programs are really struggling to hire — both recruit and retain — qualified staff at this point.”

The Municipality of Anchorage said the city has 214 child care establishments currently in operation. At full capacity, these centers can serve up to 8,854 kids. However, that number only covers a small total portion of the total need.

“We are seeing a childcare shortage of more than double of the need and the supply that we know families are looking for,” Berglund.

Families struggling to find day care can reach out to Thread to be paired up with a specialist to help.