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Demand for childcare in Michigan creates long wait lists

Demand for childcare in Michigan creates long wait lists
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 10:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:55 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As more and more people head back to work in person, they’re looking for people to watch their children while they’re away from home.

Read: Fewest Americans collecting unemployment aid since 1970

That demand for childcare means longer waiting lists at Michigan’s daycares. Additionally, many childcare centers that were open before the pandemic are no longer open.

“It’s been pretty hard,” said Ashley Smith. “It’s why I’ve been in and out of jobs.”

Because most childcare centers are full, Smith -- a single mother -- has had a difficult time holding down a job with no one to take care of her children. In the past, while most businesses were willing to be flexible with their workers, staff shortages make it even more difficult.

“Some would work with us, but they can only do so much as far as flexibility,” Smith said.

“I actually take my daughter with me,” said Alexis Engel.

Like Smith, Engle is also a single parent. Thankfully, once in a while, her job allows her to bring her daughter to work when she can’t find someone to watch her. It’s not because she isn’t trying to find a babysitter, you’ll actually find her name on dozens of waitlists.

“All I could come up with was waitlists,” Engle said. “I mean, I called probably 40-50 places -- which sounds crazy.”

“We are fuller than we’ve been in a long time,” said Elisabeth Tobia, CEO of Educational Care Center.

Tobia has more than 50 people on her waiting list. The center is 92% filled.

“I think that many centers and providers closed down after COVID,” Tobia said. “So there are fewer places that families can take their children.”

“You never know what someone is going through. For me, I have to miss work. I don’t think a lot of people understand that I would rather be there. I want to be there, I need to the money,” Engel said. “And that goes for so, so many other people that are facing all kinds of situations that are related to what’s going on in the world right now.”

Some childcare facilities -- like Educational Care Center -- have decided to raise wages for their full-time employees, rather than hire more people. However, they are looking for more part-time help for those who are interested.

More information can be found on Educational Care Center’s official website here.

If you are the owner of a childcare facility and want to apply for the Childcare Stabilization Grant, click here for the application.

If you are a parent looking for help with childcare, resources are available. Call 877-614-7328 or visit GreatStartToQuality.org.

Related: Michigan childcare professionals eligible to recieve $1,000 each

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