SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (KCAU) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the demand for child care has not changed.
Since the start of the pandemic, some parents say they either can’t afford child care or openings are limited, as their child spends more time at home than in the classroom.
“When COVID came out, we saw a drastic drop in the number of child care providers that were open. It didn’t mean they were closed permanently, but they were just not taking children in, and so we had all of a sudden this fluctuation of first families all of a sudden couldn’t find child care or their child care provider was closing,” Melissa Juhl, the Child Care Resource and Referral Regional Director for Mid-Sioux Opportunity said.
Juhl adds that in the last five years, Iowa has lost 40% of its child care businesses, and COVID-19 has made it especially difficult for centers to find qualified candidates.
“Now that people have been going back to work, our numbers have went up, up, up, and our biggest challenge with that has been having enough staff to keep it going and stay afloat. What we’re really trying to do our best at is just bringing on only the kids that we can with the staff we have and keep hiring as we go,” Stacy Eldridge, the Director of Building Blocks Preschool & Child Care said.
Eldridge adds the center is working to bring in more staff while helping fill the childcare void in Siouxland as much as possible.
But, there’s only so much they can do with limited workers.
“It definitely makes us not be able to help everybody. We want to help but we have to say sorry, our room is full,” Eldridge said.
Juhl said if that’s an issue for parents Mid-Sioux Opportunity can provide them with financial resources for at-home child care.
“If needed, meet with a group of parents of like-age children and maybe they’re having the same issue you’re having and try to find out a group solution to it, too. That maybe not one person is home every day, but maybe one person is working with a group of children,” Juhl added.
Mid-Sioux Opportunity has a statewide hotline for parents who need financial help with childcare.