Genesee County parents struggling to find daycare to return to work

Many daycare facilities have enough space but not enough workers, and the turnover is high right now
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - For those having trouble finding daycare, parents should know that they are not alone.

Across Mid-Michigan, finding child care centers with long waiting lists is not uncommon. The U.S. Labor Department said that the Child Care industry is down 126,000 positions right now nationwide.

Until those positions are filled, many parents can’t get back to work.

”I can’t work if I don’t have someone to watch my baby,” 22-year-old Kimberly Ressegeye said.

Ressegeye spends all day playing with her three-year-old daughter, Piper, but as a single mom, it’s difficult to work full-time or even part time, and she can’t help getting distracted thinking about how she’s going to provide for Piper.

“To me, having a job is going to keep my bills paid, my car driving. It’s gonna keep food in her belly,” Ressegeye said.

The good news is Kimberly is starting a job with Amazon in one week, but now she has a new problem: securing a spot for daycare.

“It’s beyond frustrating because I have bills to pay. I have things I have to take care of, and I can’t do any of it if I can’t make money, and I need to make money, but I need her to have a daycare to watch her,” Ressegeye said.

ABC12 called Fenton Academy Early Learning Center and asked what’s going on with daycares and waiting lists. The owner, Monica Racine, said that many daycare facilities have enough space but not enough workers, and the turnover is high right now.

“These children need stability, so having a turnover is not fun at a daycare because we want these children to feel comfortable. This is their home away from home,” Racine said.

Thankfully, Kimberly’s family can wear the daycare hat until Piper gets a spot.

“I do have my grandma and my mom who help which is nice, but they work full-time too, so they can’t always just hop on my three-year-old,” Ressegeye said.

Racine said that half of her waiting list is from mothers who want to get in who are still pregnant. She says she’s expanding her center in Grand Blanc hopefully by the new year.

One of the reasons daycare centers are having such trouble finding workers is they’re compensated at similar rates to other widely available jobs.

In 2020, the median pay for childcare workers across the U-S was about $12.24 an hour. That amounts to just over $25,000 a year.

Compare that to servers at restaurants at about half a dollar less an hour.

Also, retail workers make almost a dollar more per hour.

Daycare centers say the responsibilities that come with working with children often are the reason people choose similar pay at those other positions with the same entry-level requirements.

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