Childcare businesses in the United States are struggling to cope with the easing of lockdown rules as carers are leaving in their droves for better paying jobs, including working at supermarkets or public schools.
In an article published at the end of September by The Washington Post, the growing shortage is highlighted by childcare businesses across the U.S.
One of these businesses, South Shore Stars, a non-for-profit that runs early-childhood programs in eastern Massachusetts, told the publication that nobody had applied for its preschool teacher positions in Weymouth.
Jennifer Curtis, the company's director, said that people told her they'd only work at South Shore Stars as a "last resort." Staff were being poached by organizations in other sectors, such as public schools, which can offer better benefits and much higher wages than the $12 an hour day-care workers usually earn, she said.
At a nearby Dunkin Donuts, jobs are an offer at more than 15 percent than the wages paid at South Shore Stars.
Jordyn Rossignol, who owns Miss Jordyn's Child Development Center in Caribou, Maine, told The Post that she'd lost 24 employees since the start of the pandemic.
She said that some of her former staff now work as bank tellers, nannies, and at a trucking company - and that her best toddler teacher now works at a paint store.
Some preschools have opted to remain shut or scale down operations due to the chronic labour shortage.
"We don't have our toddler room open right now," Sky Purdin, director of development at Jasmin Child Care and Preschool in Fargo, North Dakota, told The Post. "Even the infant room isn't currently full because we don't have enough staff."
"We can't match Walmart offering $15 or up," Purdin told The Post. "We are a small child-care center, and we are not able to provide benefits."
Tanzie Roberts, a former childcare worker from Florida who quit the industry in June, said that she made $11.45 an hour working at a national-chain daycare center.
She told The Post that she got a raise of just $0.15 per hour during the pandemic.
"The pay is absolute crap for what's required for the position," she said.
Roberts said that she now works remotely doing admin for a tech company, which she said pays her more than $15 an hour, and doesn't expose her to the coronavirus.
The understaffing comes as workers are seeking out childcare so they can return to the office.
"This is a crisis," Diane Barber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association, told The Post. "Parents are looking for child care, but now it's this Catch-22. We don't have the staff, so we can't open the classrooms, so families can't go back to work because they can't find child care."