WEST MEMPHIS, Ark.– Some daycares are having to temporarily close their doors because there aren’t enough workers due to COVID, especially in Arkansas.
West Memphis childcare center Kids R Us Daycare is feeling the weight of COVID. It’s open now but had to close down twice in the last two months.
“We have to send kids home early. Parents have to get off from work come get their kids early because it’s short staffed,” said Aretha Poney with Kids R Us Daycare.
Childcare Aware is a resource for childcare providers and families in Arkansas to help find quality child care. They have satellite offices across the state.
Michelle Wynn, co-director of Childcare Aware Northwest Arkansas, said not only are daycares closing for cleaning and quarantine but now there is also a worker shortage.
“We are actually seeing it statewide that our early child providers are being affected,” she said. “If they are licensed for 100 childcare providers some of them are having less children because they don’t have enough staff to watch the children.”
And when child care centers close, parents really feel it.
“Everybody can’t work from home. So they are having to find outside care from neighbors to friends just to help them so they can go to work,” Wynn said.
Advocates are calling for more benefits and better wages for child care workers. WREG asked Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson about that.
“You need to have additional support or substitutes that could come in. We will have to look at it more as to whether there is any assistance that can be given. But right now it’s something we have to manage our way through this,” he said.
In the meantime, parents know your daycare center policies, and realize if they close it’s likely temporary.
“And it just don’t affect the kids, it affects us because if we are closed, we don’t get paid for it,” Poney said.