A recent survey of childcare centers in the City of Alexandria reveals a critical shortage of workers, which has major implications for parents and the local economy that depends heavily on having safe places for children while their parents are at work.
The survey, conducted last November by Hopkins House – a leading Northern Virginia center-based childcare provider – included responses from 37% of the roughly 80 centers still open and operating in the city:
- At least 168 staff positions are currently unfilled at Alexandria childcare centers.
- More than a quarter of respondents (27%) reported that they were forced to close at least one
classroom due to staff shortages, affecting some 528 children.
- Over half (59%) reported that staff turnover is higher than usual, with long-term employees
representing nearly one-third (32%) of those that have left their positions.
- Inadequate compensation, desire for career change, and challenging work conditions were
cited most often by staff leaving their jobs in childcare.
“We lost nearly half of our staff over the past two years due to the pandemic,” said Hopkins House CEO, J. Glenn Hopkins.
“We are struggling to rebuild our team.” To attract and retain staff, Hopkins House increased salaries, expanded and enhanced employee benefits, and reduced operating hours.
One survey respondent provider, among many who are likewise grappling with finding enough teachers to staff their classrooms, echoed this sentiment: “I genuinely don’t know where I’m going to find new teachers. Responses to my job postings for the past two years have been dismal.”
State and local governments are helping to recruit childcare staff – providing funding for signing bonuses, organizing career fairs, producing online recruitment advertisements. But these efforts have had limited success. And as the pandemic eases, many of these efforts are ending.
“The nation faces a childcare crisis as it also faces a labor crisis.” said Julie N. Jakopic, chair of the Hopkins House Public Policy & Advocacy Committee. “It will take funding including from
government to support wages for childcare providers to help working parents remain in the workforce and provide their children, our future workforce, with a strong start. We need to commit to investment now to avoid an economic crisis.”.