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Limited access to day care curtails rebound employment rates

More than 100 day cares in Ohio closed since 2018
Posted at 9:50 PM, Oct 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-17 10:33:49-04

CLEVELAND — For the second consecutive week, the U.S Treasury Department reported a decrease in jobless claims. But that reporting runs counter to what employers say—there aren't enough people back in the workforce.

Finding people to work is more than a single-issue problem and one major hurdle is getting potential employees access to childcare.

On Saturday, at the New Adventures Early Learning Daycare Center, it was all fun for the kids.

They wandered around the new facility picking up treats. It was a party celebrating two things: the upcoming Halloween holiday and the grand opening of a new facility.

"All the rooms are big. All the rooms are very clean," said Megan Kresse. Kresse has three kids at the center.

This day was designed as a treat for the kids at the center but for the adults, the last month has been full of tricks.

"There's a vicious circle going on right now where parents need to go to work but they're having trouble finding childcare," said center director Thomas Lane. "We're always looking for great people to come in."

Lane isn't alone is looking for qualified people to lead his learning rooms.

"The last person I hired; it actually took nine months to find a teacher," said Pietra Foster, the director at Wickliff Academy Daycare.

Part of the problem is pay. The national average pay for early childhood education jobs is $12.24 an hour. That is below the poverty level for a family of four.

Trying to keep the right number of staff and offer more money to get new workers in the door hasn't made things easy for Foster.

"We haven't really been able to open up and offer more spots so people can go to work," she said.

And that barrier to access is one of the top reasons why some people aren't going back to work.

Between July of 2018 and July of 2021, the number of licensed day cares dropped in Ohio—130 centers closed and nationally, one in three centers is considering closing their doors.

After 18 months of pandemic learning, the Halloween celebration was also a chance for kids to interact with friends.

"Kids need that social interaction," Kresse said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says labor - like employee pay - makes up between 60% to 80% of a center's yearly expenses.