Staff shortages hit local child care programs

Because custodial staff is so hard to find, we have fewer services to offer…

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Busy parents often use after-school programs for their children. However, with the growing labor shortage, finding a fully staffed program can stress not only your children, but also those who are raising them.

Educator shortages aren’t new, but there are now more than 55,000 fewer educators in US public schools. With people slowly returning to work, it seems even harder to get children back into after-school programs, but also child care workers.

This makes it difficult for Bill Coon, president of the YMCA of El Paso, to find staff and children.

“Because custodial staff are so hard to find, we have fewer services to offer; there is no daycare center that is full in their establishment because they cannot find qualified personnel to fill their establishment with children.

Because most children have gone to school online or participated in online programs, YMCA officials monitor children with social skills issues and those who show signs of mental health issues.

“They miss social development, they miss educational development, they just miss the whole atmosphere of school, how to make new friends, we’ve seen the mental health issues come up in our after school program, we’re training staff recognize this.

Burnout is also prevalent among educators due to heavy workloads and fewer breaks due to shortages. To make sure his staff doesn’t go over a personal limit, Coon provides them with several outlets so that if they need a break, the YMCA can provide it.

“You have to encourage them, you have to give them time off, we have to give them a break, make sure that if we have enough staff if this day is stressful for whatever reason for that staff, they can walk away a bit and catch that breath and we still have quality staff to take their place.

Bill Coon, president of the YMCA of El Paso

In a recent Associated Press article, pandemic stress threatens to further shrink the ranks of educators. A survey of National Education Association members conducted in January and published this week found that 55% planned to leave education earlier than expected due to the pandemic, up from 37% in August.

“There are literally not enough staff to keep the schools open,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “It is the tragic consequence of decades of chronically underfunding education and starving students.”

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