MILWAUKEE — If you are having trouble finding child care in Wisconsin, you are not alone.
The workers shortage is impacting Wisconsin day care centers. Finding quality help has always been hard to find, but the pandemic has escalated it into a crisis explained Sahera Abukhamireh, owner of Kids N' Care in Greenfield and Oak Creek.
"The other day I scheduled five interviews and none of them showed up," said Abukhamireh.
Abukhamireh explained that child care isn't like any other industry that can manage to operate with little staff.
"When we enroll children we must have staff, we follow strict ratio guidelines," Abukhamireh said. "The children ratio for infants is four babies per teacher, I can't have five babies with one teacher."
Throughout the decades child care centers have been high cost, low profit and minimally subsidized by the federal and state governments. The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse for day care centers.
"I've had teachers leave because of the virus, others had to leave to care for their own children because no one was home to take care of them when they were out of school," said Abukhamireh.
On top of challenges from the pandemic, it's an industry that requires hard work for typically low pay. The struggles at Kids N' Care are shared by child care centers across the nation. The child care services industry is down 126,700 workers according to data from the Labor Department.
Abukhamireh stresses that it is time for a change in the industry.
"It is impossible without the government support to succeed and pay our staff enough to make a living," she said.
The waiting list at Kids N' Care is so long that they are not even keeping one at this time. As Abukhamireh works to find quality workers she is grateful for her amazing team that has stuck with her.
"I love my staff, I am so proud of them," said Abukhamireh.
Kids N' Care is also a part of Wisconsin's YoungStar five-star quality rating system for child care programs based on achievements in four categories: education of staff, learning environment & curriculum for children, business & professional practices and practices that promote the child’s health and well-being.