Triad child care centers seek help from federal government

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Child care centers across the Triad are hoping to get some help from Washington.

They can’t keep enough staff on hand to serve kids and are turning some families away because they don’t have enough qualified teachers to serve them.

“At this facility, we currently have 20 full-time teachers. We’re in need of five. And at the other facility, we have eight full-time teachers, and we need two,” said Josette Baouna, the facility administrator for the Academy of Spoiled Kids.

Leaders at AOSK can’t get the qualified candidates they need to even show up for an interview. It has a domino effect on their business.

“We’re getting calls every day, and we’re turning away children every day based on the need for more teachers,” said Jamesa Bitting, management team advisor for AOSK.

More and more qualified early childhood teachers are leaving the low-paying business.

“When we can’t pay, it’s really hard to get people in the door with the disposition and the heart and the education and the experience to be there, love it and stay,” said Ashley Allen, a work environment and compensation coordinator with UNCG.

Part of the plan pushed by the Biden Administration would provide large subsidies and grants to child care centers to pay their teachers more. It would also cap the amount a family pays for child care at seven% of their income.

“What’s interesting is we have many teachers in programs with the education that can’t afford where they are for their own children. So oftentimes, you’ll see child care programs offering discounts for their own employees in order to be able to retain that staff,” Allen said.

Robin Lewis was one of those teachers. Lewis teaches Pre-K at Wishview Children’s Center in Greensboro.

“The price tag is so expensive, I think sometimes families are having to make those tough decisions,” Lewis said.

On average, a Guilford County family could pay at least $1,000 to $1,500 per month for infant care.

The people who run the centers say the money can’t come soon enough.

“Child care facilities we had great relationships with two years ago are nonexistent, so we don’t know how long we’re going to be able to sustain quality child care if we don’t get the funding,” Bitting said.

The measure is set to go before the House towards the end of the week.

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