A daycare that working parents rely on is temporarily closing. A teacher shortage in Naples is affecting Child’s Path day care center.
The CEO says they’re having trouble holding onto employees even with the incentives they’re offering.
The childcare staffing crisis is a top priority in Collier County right now. The early learning coalition says it’s working to find teachers to train and certify them. But many say finding those teachers is their biggest issue.
Staffing issues have long plagued early childhood education but, this year seems different. Heather Singleton is Child’s Path’s CEO. “I have been in early childhood education going on for 20 years, and I have never had the struggle with staffing that we are having this year,” Singleton said.
Last week, its Naples location was forced to shut down, but they hope to reopen soon.
But reopening would mean finding the number of teachers they need while competing with jobs that require less responsibility. “Your Walmart’s and your Targets that are hiring people at $16, $16.50 an hour with no prior experience our children are equally as worthy of getting those people into the field as those big box stores,” said Singleton.
Since March of 2020, 15 child care centers have closed in Collier County. That is 712 spots that have been eliminated. This means 712 Collier County children are not getting vital education ahead of primary schooling.
And, it shows. Leona Adkins is the chief quality officer for the Early Learning Coalition of SWFL. “For Collier County in 2019, only 47% of the children were ready, last year for 2020 we did have 50%, and for this year it’s gone down again we’re at 47%,” Adkins said.
Adkins is talking about kindergarten preparedness and the percentage of students that are ready for school. While Collier is currently only at 50%, Early Learning Coalition hopes to change that.
The goal is to find teachers and reopen child care centers. And the good news is that there’s funding to do so. The Early Learning Coalition says that providers should apply for funds that will not only help support current staff but aid in finding new teachers.