RUDOLPH (WAOW) — Experts are saying there has been a rapid decline in licensed child care workers in Wisconsin.
It is making it harder for parents to find care for their kids, especially in rural areas.
Rudolph’s Little Dears Child Care Center has been serving the Rudolph community for more than 14 years.
Owners said, this year, they have had to limit just how much they are able to serve the small town of 400.
“We put people on waitlists or just straight out say we don’t have room right now because we don’t have enough teachers,” said Diane Geis, the lead teacher at the center.
Geis and her mother, Caroline Casper, operate the center together.
They said the child care worker shortage has caused them to turn away families who are desperate for child care.
“On average, we get one call a week for care ages one and up, and I just got a call yesterday. They wanted to start their 4-year-old right away, and they asked when we would have room and I said maybe spring,” said Casper.
The center usually accepts kids four and older for Christmas break; however, this year they were so short-staffed that it made it impossible.
“If we have to compromise the integrity of our program, then I would rather close,” Casper said.
Experts said the cause for all of this is low wages.
“Child care situation here is low pay, low benefits and hard work. It takes a special kind of person to work in a child care program, so I think those are some of the factors attributing to the worker shortage,” said Kelly Borchardt the executive director of Child Caring.
“It is a job that can take a lot out of you physically and emotionally, so if you don’t have the support you aren’t going to last long.
For now, the center says they will just have to wait and hope they will get more qualified applicants.
The average licensed child care teacher makes $9 to $10 an hour in Wisconsin.
In order to combat the issue, the Department of Children and Families has come up with a rewards program to offer wage stipends to child care workers who reached specific education levels.