Childcare centers struggle to survive due to understaffing, COVID | News

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Almost 30% of metro daycares have been forced to close during the pandemic.

Joe Reardon, president / CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, addressed the struggle daycares face in the Kansas City area during the daily health briefing hosted by the University of Kansas Health System .

KCTV5 checked with several metro daycares on Monday. Early Start, formerly United Inner City Services, called on Monday to close all three centers for the week due to illness calls from COVID staff, according to CEO Deidre Anderson.

“During the weekend before our reopening [after winter break], we learned that several of our employees have tested positive or are awaiting test results… So we call this type of zero level reset and ask families to monitor their children closely, get them tested if necessary, and same with our staff. We’re just wondering what the next few days and weeks will hold for us, ”Anderson said.

During the pandemic, the group took over two buildings, one of which housed a daycare center that had to close. Anderson said if they close their doors, it will force them to shut down another vendor in that space.

Cindy Lehnhoff, director of the National Childcare Association, said that what is happening with the daycare closures is “catastrophic.” About 80% of childcare centers nationwide have limited staff and long waiting lists for children.

” The worst is [that] we haven’t seen the worst yet, because right now many centers are receiving at least some support from the stimulus packages that have been passed, ”Lehnhoff said.

The Sweet Chariot daycare in Kansas City has benefited from stimulus funds. The establishment is aimed mainly at disadvantaged socio-economic families. When the pandemic first began in March 2020, the facility closed for three months before reopening with government funds that kept it afloat.

“If we close, the children lose a place to go during the day [and] parents lose their jobs and then we face a lot more poverty. We need people to come and that’s why we’re here to help them come, ”said Director of Child Care Armond McDonald Sr.

With a small staff, it only takes a few COVID illness calls for the Sweet Chariot child care center to temporarily close as staff work nearby and would be asked to quarantine themselves until they can. test.

Another early childhood center, Rainbow School, in Kansas City operates hourly, according to assistant principal Mory Sanderson. The center closed its nursery this week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday until January 19. All facility replacements work and hold regular teaching positions that are absent due to exposure to COVID. With all of the replacements working, if other staff members develop COVID or are exposed, it is highly likely that they will have to close another classroom.

The daycare always follows the 10-day isolation guidelines for positive results, as none of the children in its care are eligible. So far, no child has tested positive, but out of 10 teachers, three are absent. All staff are vaccinated and have been reminded of the COVID-19 vaccine.

None of the establishments interviewed by KCTV5 were convinced that they would not have to temporarily close if COVID infections continue to rise and impact their staff shortages.

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