As some parents transition to in-person work, many child care providers are having a difficult time providing services during a worker shortage across the state.
“The main shortage is of qualified workers because there are some people that want to work, but unfortunately they don’t carry the certifications to be able to lead a classroom,” Lina Rivera, program director at Little Einstein’s Daycare in Logan Square, said. “They can serve as assistants, but they cannot work as certified teachers. So, what ends up happening in the day care world is that we have to hire with the minimum education package.”
Rivera said the shortage has caused the center to pause enrollment as the number of child care applications began to rise. For now, she is asking parents to sign up for their waitlist until they have recruited more teachers.
Rebecca Austin, a teacher at Kiddie Academy in Bolingbrook said her center is also understaffed and overworked.
“It has been very stressful with the shortage of staff at the center.” Austin said. “I can definitely say that the staff have always done a great job with leaning on each other. I know that the teachers that I work with are going to be there to lift me up and support me. And honestly, the number one thing is just the support that we have for each other.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced investment in and expansion of existing child care programs under the Child Care Assistance Program to help parents return to the workplace.
Jamal Malone, CEO of Ada S. McKinley Community Services, said although he appreciates the governor’s plan, he believes more support must be given to families and day care employees.
“There is a lot of stress on our employees,” Malone said. “What we are seeing is that families are in need of services like our programs. We provide access to diapers, nutritional meals and more. We are also seeing a need to hire more staff in some of our locations. Because we closed some of our sites, in anticipation of the governor’s child care assistance plan we are trying to offset the growth.”
Austin said she is looking forward to seeing more parents enroll their children at day care centers when the shortage lifts.
“We just want to let parents know that we are here. We’ve been here since the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t want the kids to miss out on interaction with other children, which is critical,” Austin said.