Connecticut Childcare Approaching Critical Staffing Shortage

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Childcare for CT’s Future rallied at the capitol Wednesday ahead of what they say is a childcare crisis. The group of childcare providers across the state say funds are in dire need right now.

“The childcare industry needs $700 million this year, not to have a collapse,” said Georgia Goldburn, the director of Hope for New Haven child development centers.

She said it’s a problem that’s been brewing throughout the pandemic. Childcare workers are required to have at least an associate’s degree, while pay remains near minimum wage.

“The average salary of a teacher in Connecticut in early care is $13.50 I think,” Goldburn said.

Staff are leaving the industry for higher-paying jobs in other fields, creating waiting lists that are months long. Goldburn said she’s only able to pull one child off the list every few months.

“I have a preschool room with 14 slots available because I don’t have the staff,” Goldburn said.

In order to stay competitive with salaries and benefits to attract staff, she said the cost of childcare would have to go up dramatically.

“If we raise our tuition to four to five hundred dollars a week for most families, childcare then becomes inaccessible, and then you now are making decisions about whether you should go to work or stay home with your children," Goldburn said.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been support through partnerships with the state. On Wednesday, the women’s business development council discussed their success in helping some childcare centers stay afloat.

“Childcare was a fragile business model before the pandemic and this just laid an incredible stress on the industry,” said Beth Bye, commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.  

Through a partnership with the Women in Business Development Council, the state was able to get $2.4 million in grants to 117 childcare centers statewide.

“Only one of them ended up closing their shop,” said Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women in Business Development Council. “Many of them expanded and increased their slots.”

The Women in Business Development Council will open applications on March 23 for three weeks to once again help childcare centers get some relief and help.

The first round of funding came at a critical time to many, including Goldburn.

“Having those funds to pay taxes to the city and pay one month of rent was a huge blessing, especially during the pandemic. But that was just one month of assistance that we received from that.”

Any help is welcomed, but Goldburn said this is a much wider issue that needs state and federal support to get workers back in the classroom and to open the existing spots many centers had to make unavailable.

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