Childcare centers say staff are leaving them in droves for better wages, including for $15-an-hour roles at Walmart

Daycare
The US Treasury Department said in a report last week that childcare workers have an average annual pay of $US24,230 ($AU33,352). DANIEL R. PATMORE/ AP
  • Childcare businesses are struggling to find enough staff, The Washington Post reported.
  • Staff are leaving for better wages, including as bank tellers and nannies, companies said.
  • “The pay is absolute crap for what’s required for the position,” a former childcare worker said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Childcare businesses are struggling to find enough staff because workers are leaving the industry for better pay, The Washington Post reported.

South Shore Stars, a non-for-profit that runs early-childhood programs in eastern Massachusetts, told the publication that nobody had applied for its preschool teacher positions in Weymouth.

Jennifer Curtis, the company’s director, said that people told her they’d only work at South Shore Stars as a “last resort.” Staff were being poached by organizations in other sectors, such as public schools, which can offer better benefits and much higher wages than the $US12 ($AU17) an hour day-care workers usually earn, she said.

A nearby Dunkin’ is advertising jobs at $US14 ($AU19) an hour, per The Post.

Jordyn Rossignol, who owns Miss Jordyn’s Child Development Center in Caribou, Maine, told The Post that she’d lost 24 employees since the start of the pandemic.

She said that almost all quit over pay, which at her company ranged from $US12 ($AU17).15 to $US14 ($AU19) an hour.

Rossignol said that some of her former staff now work as bank tellers, nannies, and at a trucking company – and that her best toddler teacher now works at a paint store.

Workers across the US, ranging from servers and store workers to truckers, have been quitting their jobs in what’s been called “the Great Resignation.” They say they’re looking for better pay, benefits, and working condition.

Like other businesses hit by the labor shortage, some childcare centers are scaling down operations.

“We don’t have our toddler room open right now,” Sky Purdin, director of development at Jasmin Child Care and Preschool in Fargo, North Dakota, told The Post. “Even the infant room isn’t currently full because we don’t have enough staff.”

The US Treasury Department said in a report last week that childcare workers are paid, on average, $US24,230 ($AU33,352) a year – in the bottom 2% of all occupations. Nearly half have to rely on public assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the department added.

“We can’t match Walmart offering $US15 ($AU21) or up,” Purdin told The Post. “We are a small child-care center, and we are not able to provide benefits.”

Tanzie Roberts, a former childcare worker from Florida who quit the industry in June, said that she made $US11.45 ($AU16) an hour working at a national-chain daycare center.

She told The Post that she got a raise of just $US0.15 ($AU0) per hour during the pandemic.

“The pay is absolute crap for what’s required for the position,” she said.

Roberts said that she now works remotely doing admin for a tech company, which she said pays her more than $US15 ($AU21) an hour, and doesn’t expose her to the coronavirus.

The understaffing comes as workers are seeking out childcare so they can return to the office.

“This is a crisis,” Diane Barber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association, told The Post. “Parents are looking for child care, but now it’s this Catch-22. We don’t have the staff, so we can’t open the classrooms, so families can’t go back to work because they can’t find child care.”