“Child care crisis”: Short staff causing wait-lists to stretch years out across R.I.
WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – Child care providers along with Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Department of Human Services Director Celia Blue, and representatives from the General Assembly participated in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday morning to address Rhode Island’s child care crisis.
Facilities across the state are struggling to stay afloat as the industry faces a serious staffing shortage. Now, workers are asking the Governor to put the $1.1-billion of American Rescue Funds to use and help them get back on their feet.
Khadija Lewis Khan is the Executive Director of Beautiful Beginnings Child Care Center in Providence. She says there’s an urgent need for that money.
“It’s really important and it’s critical right now. There’s a very big staffing shortage in the child care industry and it’s due to the historically low wages that we have in our field,” Khadija Lewis Khan said. “The time is now. A lot of child care centers have rooms that are closing, some child care centers are closing themselves just at a time when an increase in need for families is happening.”
Charlene Barbieri, Owner of Little Learners Academy in Warwick says because they’re short-staffed, their waitlist is years out.
“We have a waitlist now currently through 2022 looking into January of 2023. The waitlist is extensive,” Barbieri said. “We’re doing our best to work with our families.”
Child Care Providers are calling on the Governor to additionally bump up their wages to a minimum of $15 an hour, expand eligibility for families, and add an educator compensation plan for the workers who do stay.
Governor McKee acknowledged the state has been slow to use the funding and pledges to use the first 10% towards child care, housing, and small businesses.
“We’ve been very clear that we think the funds should be out and about and helping the economy and child care is part of the economy,” Governor McKee said.