WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As more people return to work, it’s bringing forth a bigger demand for child care. The State of Kansas says roughly a quarter of the population relies on childcare and school to have the ability to work.
Not being able to find child care is one of the reasons some say they cannot go back to work. So, it’s a problem when daycares do not have enough staff to take on more kids. But many local caretakers say hiring and retaining qualified workers has been an issue for years.
Teresa Rupp, executive director with Child Start said childcare providers are struggling to find employees. “Like many other industries child care is feeling the need to hire,” she said.
“We can’t get people into the workforce if we can’t get their children into childcare,” added Tanya Bullock, Child Start program director of early childhood connections.
Cornelia Stevens, executive director, TOP Early Learning Centers said, “It is so hard right now with the workforce and trying to make sure that we have the number of people needed, you know, to meet ratio requirements because we are a licensed provider.”
But many employers are struggling to hire qualified workers. “Maybe because their employees need childcare, or maybe because their employees are looking at other opportunities that will pay as much or more and be easier work, said Rupp weighing in on the current shortage.
Courtney Cantrell, who’s the owner and operator of Family First Child Care said, “If you look at an average preschool teacher’s salary, the unemployment benefits are more than that.”
Cantrell is the owner of Family First Child Care in Newton and Wichita. She said keeping up with the demand has been stressful. “It’s a struggle every day, the stress is high, the days are long the hours are longer,” said Cantrell. “So we definitely have seen some stress and heaviness in our offices.”
Cantrell said hiring even five trained teachers could make a difference. “I think we could add children from our waitlist and we could really help the community get back to work,” she said.
Child Start says out of all the calls they receive of people searching for child care, and actually finding a spot to fill, only 45-percent are successful. Meaning the other 55-percent are stuck searching.