Childcare Company to Shut, Couldn’t Hire Staff

  • The owner of a childcare company says she had to slash its hours because of understaffing.
  • She said she’d was now planning on winding down the business over the next year.
  • Other childcare companies say staff have been leaving for better-paid roles at banks and schools.

The owner of a small childcare company in California says she plans to wind down the business because of a labor shortage that has forced her to slash hours and reduce the number of children she looks after.

Tonya Muhammad, who runs Lil Critters Family Daycare in Hawthorne, told CalMatters that she hadn’t been able to find a replacement for an assistant who’d left in spring 2020 over concerns about the coronavirus. Muhammad said she’d placed adverts for the job on Indeed, Facebook Jobs, and at a nearby community college, but hadn’t found suitable candidate.

“I’ve even paid for fingerprints for a couple [of applicants] and then there’s just no follow up,” she said, likely referring to criminal background checks.

The US is suffering from a huge labor shortage as workers quit their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

This includes childcare workers. Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that around 941,000 Americans were employed at child daycare services in October, down from almost 1.05 million in February 2020.

Across all facilities, childcare workers earn a median hourly salary of $12.24, BLS data from May 2020 shows, but this falls to $11.57 for those working at child daycare services.

Managers of childcare companies told The Washington Post in September that their staff had been leaving for better pay at other jobs.

Companies have been hiking up wages because of a combination of the labor shortage and the push for a $15 federal minimum wage, causing what one restaurant chain owner called a “bidding war” for staff. Costco, for example, is raising starting wages to $17 an hour.

Muhammad said that because she’d had to staff the business by herself, she’d had to cut the number of children she looked after by more than half, down from 14 to six. She said she’d also reduced the business’ opening hours to between 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., compared to 24 hours a day pre-pandemic.

Muhammad told CalMatters that she estimated her income from the business had fallen by more than 50% as a result.

Muhammad told CalMatters that she was going to wind down her business over the next year to instead focus on a range of other gigs, including consulting, sales of a childcare book she wrote, and a hotline for childcare providers.

The understaffing comes as workers are seeking childcare so they can return to the office.

Like Muhammad’s Lil Critters Family Daycare, other childcare companies have been cutting their hours or reducing their capacity because of their understaffing. A childcare center and preschool in North Dakota told The Post that it had shut its toddler room and limited how many children it accepts in its infant room “because we don’t have enough staff.”

Restaurants, cleaning companies, and retailers have all been slashing their hours and services because of a lack of staff, too.



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