Labor shortage impacting daycare centers

Labor shortages have impacted several sectors of the economy.

But could shortages in one industry be impacting all the rest?

READ MORE: Local restaurants, bars still struggling to find workers

There are reports across the country of childcare centers not being able to find staff.

That could be impacting the overall workforce participation rate as families try and decide whether to pay for childcare or work.

Nicole Edwards and her husband had their daughter, Payton in January of 2020.

When Edwards maternity leave was over, she says she tried working from home with Payton, but it wasn’t working.

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The family made the decision to try and find care for Payton, but it was a challenge.

"We found very quickly that there were waitlists everywhere," Edwards said.

Edwards said she didn’t quite expect to have this many problems finding care,

"I was very surprised, and it was very scary to think, ‘Ok, how is this going to affect our family dynamic and my child’s development and everything that comes with that, and then my own career, like, how is that going to affect my job and my ability to do it well,’" Edwards added.

READ MORE: Harris Teeter shortens hours of operation, citing labor market challenges

Nicole Edwards eventually got the call from Elonda Edwards, owner of Everyday Play N Learn based in White Plains, Maryland and in the District.

Elonda Edwards says her demand is sky high, so much so that she’s decided to open another D.C. location.

Between existing openings at her two daycares and the new center, Elonda Edward is looking to hire 15 people right now.

"The high demand is especially with infant care, especially in the DC area," Edwards said.

Edwards says employee retention has been a challenge during the pandemic for a handful of reasons.

Edwards says some of her employees didn’t want to get vaccinated and left. Others decided the risk of caring for other people’s young children who can’t be vaccinated led them to opt for jobs in other industries.

"A lot of workers are just like ‘I want to get an at-home job, because I don’t have to deal with the kids getting sick and having COVID and that’s a lot of parents and staff are scared of that,’" Edwards said.

Last week, the Treasury Department issued a report saying the economics of childcare were untenable, that families shouldn’t have to decide between childcare and working.

The median salary for a childcare worker in 2020 was $12.24 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Remedying the childcare system is part of the Democrats proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Elonda Edwards says she’s getting applications for her openings and is optimistic she’ll be able to fill them.