CINCINNATI — It’s been a challenging couple of months here at Learning Grove Childcare Center in Downtown Cincinnati as they struggle to fill a number of different positions.
“Teachers are staying late to cover shifts, and I will go the classroom of need. ... Sometimes, I might be in there all day,” said Kathy Benkert, Learning Grove site director. “Then I have to do my work in the evening and teachers might have to do lesson planning in the evening on their own time.” Benkert says the lack of staffing not only impacts the center, but the families as well. “It also creates a shortage of child care for families. There's not a place for them to take their children during the day,” she said. “So, that limits their options of working if they don't have a place for their children.” Determined to fill these positions, Benkert and her team have reached out to the community for help. “We're using word of mouth,” she said. “We're offering incentives to teachers to make recommendations. We also work with local colleges so allowing their students to come into our classrooms, hoping that this experience will spark something that they might want to stay.” One of their biggest supporters has been 4C for Children, a nonprofit organization that helps child care providers and families find the resources they need to be successful. Learning Grove is one of dozens of child care providers that are part of 4C’s new early childhood education job board to help with job listings and raise awareness around this problem. CEO of 4C, Vanessa Freytag, knows that the extra help is needed right now. “Child care helps parents go back to their jobs. Child care may help a kid right now that needs to learn remotely and how to do that while their parents are doing what they need,” said Freytag. “We also know that the success of a child in terms of educational grounding at ages three and four has a lot to do with how they will do when they go to school.” One of the most important things Benkert says she wants people to know is that you don’t need a lot of experience for entry-level positions. “We want people who have some early-childhood knowledge, but that other stuff we can teach someone,” said Benkert. “You can come into our field as an assistant, and we can help them if they want to pursue this for a career.” Despite the current challenges, Benkert is confident that they’ll be able to fill these needed positions. “My hope is that our staffing will increase,” she said. “I'm hoping that this experience during the pandemic that parents are finding that there is a great need and people in our community are going to understand that there is a need for early childhood and quality childcare for our children.” For more information about these job listings visit learning-grove.org.