ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Daycares across Abilene say they have been dealing with a shortage of caretakers over the past two years. Some daycare managers said they thought the shortage would have been fixed as the COVID-19 pandemic died down, but to no such luck.
Kids on Maple Street is licensed to take care of 100 little ones, but told KTAB/KRBC they are only able to watch 61 right now.
The daycare’s director, Kim McMillan said this not only causes them to lose money, but they also have to turn away children.
“I don’t have enough employees… The worst part of what I do is telling parents, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have room for your baby,'” said McMillan.
In the interest of finding new ways to attract employees, McMillan said she hopes she can draw in more people with a new Facebook page and website.
McMillan explained that the problem is finding quality workers in the field. Because they are taking care of children, they have to pass an extensive background check. However, another problem is there is a need for more funding.
Morgan Garza, director at Rainbow Bible School had a similar story.
“If you’ve been in the classroom for 30 years… That’s super valuable to us, but I can’t pay you for your experience,” Garza gave in.
At Rainbow, Garza said she’s had to pull in trained students of Abilene Christian University (ACU) to help out when an employee has to be out for the day.
“We need all of our people every single day,” explained Garza. “We have very little room for wiggle room, which makes it very difficult because life is going to happen.”
Surprisingly enough, program director at Day Nursey of Abilene, Brenda Peak, said her daycare is actually doing better than they were last summer. However, this is because the daycare has not only increased its pay, but has also spent much more money advertising on Indeed.com, a website used to hire quality people.
Even with a pay raise, Peak said many people have something come up on their background check, and they are unable to work in the daycare.
Although Day Nursery is doing better, Peak told KTAB/KRBC, “That’s not to say by any means that we aren’t struggling, because we are down nine people, and it’s difficult.”
The Texas Workforce Commission has been able to put money towards childcare centers and homes by giving $17 million in 2022 to the West Central Texas area, where Abilene is the biggest city. Even though they are working to help, a need for more money keeps coming up.