INDIANAPOLIS — As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and more parents return to work offices, local daycares are struggling to keep up with staffing, and in some cases, are being forced to turn children away.
Cherelle Young, owner of Bright Beginnings Child Care, says staffing has been a challenge lately.
"We are at the point right now where we must hire more people in order to accept more children," said Young. "Sometimes we barely have enough staff to make it for the day."
Young says she and her staff have done everything they can think of to hire more people, even recently spending thousands of dollars on advertising, but only one person was hired.
Right now, they're taking care of around 80 children. Young said they could be caring for around 135 if they had seven to 10 more employees.
"At this point, I get four or five if not more calls a day of parents really begging them to let the kids come, and we are telling them no because we don't have the space — so it's kind of hard for us now," said Antoine Clark, assistant director at Bright Beginnings.
"And they already sound frustrated because they probably already heard no a few more times," Young added.
Right now, the daycare's waiting list is so long no more children can be added.
"I tell people all the time that we have a waiting list that's longer than Washington Street. Parents are continuing to call every day," said Young.
Being forced to turn children away due to short staffing is also hard on employees.
"They are like my grandkids. They are like my grandchildren," said employee Linda Thompson.
During the pandemic, the child care center raised employees' pay from around $8 to $13 an hour in hopes to maintain staff. Those with Child Development Associate credentials can make between $15-17 an hour, Young said.
And it's not an isolated issue. Young said staffing is a challenge for several other child care centers across Indianapolis.
That's why she's hoping folks will step up and apply.
"We are all almost at a standstill and we can't really move forward until we have more staffing," said Young.
Young says they need teachers and teacher aides. For now, they are standing by, willing to train anyone who's interested.
Those who wish to apply can visit Bright Beginnings, located at 10037 Washington St. to pick up an application.
Potential applicants can also email the center at BrightBeginningsChildcare@yahoo.com.