WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — As some families struggle to find child care, many facilities are trying to get the staff they need to meet the demand.
Facility directors tell KSN it has been a challenge to find qualified workers even before the pandemic.
“For a long time it wasn’t visible to anybody and boy COVID made it visible,” said Teresa Rupp, executive director of Child Start.
The pandemic is shining a light on how crucial child care is for all employers.
“They’ve seen that its hard to get the workforce to come back when the workforce doesn’t have childcare,” Rupp said.
However, it is hard for some families to find a spot. When child care facilities are not getting enough applicants.
“We do not have all of our Head Start classrooms open. We don’t have all of our Early Head Start classrooms opened because we can’t hire staff and in many cases, we’re not getting applications at all,” Rupp said. “Part of that is because the wages are not adequate for what we expect those people to do.”
Despite some challenges, there are Kansans ready to step up.
“We are seeing some interest in entering the childcare profession,” said Kelly Davydov, director of Child Care Aware of Kansas. “Interested in becoming a childcare provider either working in a center-based childcare program or opening a small business and operating a childcare program from their home.”
So far this year 149 people in Sedgwick County have taken an orientation to learn how to open a child care facility. That’s already 40 more than this time last year.
Child Care Aware of Kansas has also noticed more interest from state and local leaders.
“We’ve been very encouraged by that and continue to work with communities directly as they are seeking tailored local solutions to their unique challenges,” Davydov said.