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Hampton Roads parents react to childcare worker shortage

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Posted at 10:31 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 22:43:45-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - There’s a childcare worker shortage in Hampton Roads, and parents say they have seen the impacts.

The Eastern Virginia Medical School’s non-profit Minus 9 to 5 conducted a survey on how the worker shortage is affecting the Tidewater area.

"At first, it took me three months to find childcare with a newborn at home, and now I have a 1-year-old about to be 2 years old," said parent Justin Cornelius.

With the shortage prevalent in Hampton Roads, Combs, a father of two, says it took him a while to find childcare for his young ones. Combs says his wife was let go from her job after she asked for time off to find childcare.

"They had fired her from working and she was telling them that she was looking for childcare, but they didn’t give her the time off. She tried to ask for a week off to find childcare," Combs said.

One parent who’s also a teacher says she’s noticed the worker shortage firsthand.

"I do realize that there is a childcare shortage, so I’ve resulted to having my daughter attend the school where I teach at. That was my way of combating the issue," said parent Shea Winston.

Winston says she’s more at ease having her daughter nearby every day.

"I feel like I can better monitor her and ensure that she’s practicing social distancing," Winston said.

Minus 9 to 5 conducted a survey on just how bad the childcare worker shortage is in Hampton Roads.

"We found out that there were a total of 361 positions [vacant], which includes administrative and auxiliary staff - whether it's facilities, kitchen, bus drivers," said Dr. Jane Glasgow, the executive director of Minus 9 to 5 and an assistant professor of pediatrics at EVMS.

Kandis Kurtis, a mother of two, says she and her family have been impacted.

"I actually had to quit my job so I could stay at home and be that childcare for them," Kurtis said.

Kurtis has been with her kids throughout the pandemic and finally feels comfortable sending her kids to school in person for the first time in more than a year.

"It’s just a lot; you can’t trust anybody. With the pandemic and everything else, it was just cheaper for me to quit for a while," Kurtis said.

Her son, Grayson, will be starting kindergarten this week at Trentwood Elementary School.

"I’m nervous, but it will be OK. I’m excited for them. They’re excited to get back to school. I am lucky that my job is letting me come back while they are at school part time," Kurtis said.

Dr. Glasgow says childcare centers are having to turn away children.

"When childcare centers can’t be fully staffed or aren’t able to hire enough people to be fully staffed, they can’t open all their classrooms, so we’re hearing centers are having to reduce their capacity," Dr. Glasgow said.

Related: COVID-19 pandemic impacting Hampton Roads child care programs

Minus 9 to 5 surveyed 68 childcare centers in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk and Portsmouth to collect the data.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.