Local childcare professionals facing staff shortage

Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 12:50 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - One industry is in demand more than ever since the pandemic ended.

With parents returning to work, daycares are struggling to keep up with the growing need.

Parents having to miss work to combat the problem is costing the U.S. money. Through productivity and taxes, 122 billion dollars in taxes according to “kids count.”

Kaytlan Casares works two jobs, managing a pet groomer, and being a mom to her 11-month-old daughter Amelia.

“Getting to see her interact with other people and just explore the world around her for the first time, I absolutely love it,” says Kaytlan.

But when her maternity leave ended, she was faced with a problem far too many parents understand, access to childcare.

“That was really difficult for us,” says Kaytlan.

The problem is daycare centers are hard to get into and they are very expensive. But the problem doesn’t only affect moms.

Dr. Sean Durham at Auburn University teaches early childhood education and says the daycares themselves have to charge high prices due to the problems they face, which are continuing to grow.

“Childcare workers are generally some of the lowest paid workers in this country, in any industry,” says Durham.

The turnover rate for childcare workers continues to skyrocket, causing staffing shortages across the nation.

“They were actually short staffed, and one day when we were planning on taking her to daycare, they said that they couldn’t. Which was really difficult because we were both working that day,” says Kaytlan.

In September of last year, childcare employment dropped almost 10 percent from early 2020.

By that time, the industry had lost more than 100 thousand jobs according to the center for the Study of Child Care Employment.

“A teacher said that she could go and wait tables for four hours, and make more money than she would working a full day at a childcare center,” says Kaytlan.

Childcare workforce stabilization grants have been in place to combat low wages, but the grants are due to expire in September of this year.

“We can come together as a society to have some greater conversation about how we can really commit our resources to better support these teachers and these programs that are so essential not only to our children, but to our economy and wellbeing as a whole,” says Kaytlan.

“I am okay with paying the price that I’m paying, for the quality, because they are providing that quality time with her,” says Kaytlan.

Dr. Durham says childcare workforce stabilization grants are expected to expire in September of this year, but Alabama house leadership says they plan to introduce a tax credit bill to make up for it.