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My Cousin Can’t Go To Daycare Because He’s a Pandemic Baby

The year 2020 was quite a busy one, so busy that there’s an influx of day cares where there isn’t any room for 2-year-olds/soon-to-be 2-year-olds. The issue of this shortage has a lot to do with the decrease in employment in the child care industry.  

My cousin searched for months to find my 2-year-old cousin a decent day care that wouldn’t break the bank. I was stunned that as many day cares we have surrounding us in the Atlanta metro area, 2-year-olds were running the place, and it certainly is telling what everyone was doing in what was supposed to be isolation. 

Child painting at school. (Photo: Getty image)

The pandemic presented unforeseen issues that have lingered for three years. With the abundant number of babies born in 2021, nobody could predict the effect it would have on day cares. In fact, day cares are at risk of closing due to a lack of day care workers.

Trends in the child care industry show a huge decrease in employment once the pandemic hit in 2020. According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), employment significantly dropped 35 percent to 680,000 in April 2020. Furthermore, ASPE says by June 2022, only five states had recovered to pre-pandemic employment levels. 

Nonetheless, toddlers must be accounted for because parents must work. Thanks to the pandemic, it seems that there are more diapers available at the day care than pandemic babies and employees. “It’s an inconvenience, but if it wasn’t for family, I’d have to drastically adjust,” says Antoria Maxwell, a teacher at Annistown Elementary Kindergarten in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County.

As an ex-day care employee, I understand the lack of workers. The pay is extremely minimal, and the expectation of your role is that of a Fortune 500 company. I worked at a private in-home day care for two years while in college, and I was making $7.50 per hour. I started at $7 and somehow just stayed there. Intuit states that the average salary of a day care worker is $19,500 annually.

The demand is high, and the pay is low at day cares. My class was always full of twos and threes, so hearing about there not being room for any more doesn’t surprise me. “You have to worry about the quality too because if there is a spot available it’s usually because it’s a place nobody really wants,” says Maxwell.

There aren’t many options for day cares because they aren’t employed appropriately. Though the children play a role in the amount of space that is available, if there is no one to teach and supervise them, then there lies the problem.

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) explains that by using the state’s $6.6 billion budget surplus, Georgia can make additional $1,000 bonus payments to child care staff. This bonus would be beneficial to them, as they aren’t paid much, and they would be seen as equals to fellow co-workers such as pre-K teachers.

Even though there seems to be a gap in care, all is not lost. There are options that the state and federal levels can provide to accommodate parents trying to provide for their little ones.

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