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COVID-19 pandemic causes staffing shortages among childcare centers

Local daycare centers continue their services while understaffed, many saying they cannot get new employees with their current pay rates.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos sat down virtually to discuss the American Rescue Plan with childcare workers on Thursday.

The topic of staff shortages became the center of the discussion.

When Congresswomen Bustos asked the childcare workers to raise their hands if they were faced with staff shortages, all but one raised their hands.

The Rock Island YWCA daycare retained all of their staff throughout the pandemic. Yet with new regulations, that number no longer suffices the needs of parents in the community.

"The issue with COVID-19 is that we need more staff. We need temperature takers at the front desk, we need runners. We've reduced the capacities the per classroom because of staffing shortages," YWCA CEO Julie Larson said.

The reduction of their classroom capacity has decreased their child to employee ratio.

Now, the YWCA has a wait list of children waiting to get into the daycare.

"We've been turning children away, which is very unfortunate and again it goes back to we need extra staff if we're going to continue to not combine children in classrooms," Larson continued.

While physical locations are ready for full capacity, daycares struggle to find new staff that is willing to work for the pay.

On a national average childcare workers make $11.65 an hour.