Kansas City-area child care providers reveal what availability looks like during pandemic

Childcare during the pandemic .jpg
Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 19:17:29-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Providing childcare can be challenging and the pandemic hasn't made the profession any easier. But insiders argue available spots exist for parents looking for a place to watch their child.

“We feel like we’re built for this, and this is our calling," said Sonja Mollison, the founder and owner of Bambino Bungalow, a home childcare facility in Mission, Kansas.

With over 30 years of experience, Mollison explained the childcare profession can be challenging.

“This is a very mentally and emotionally draining profession," she said. "Just imagine you’re dealing with all these emotions.”

The pandemic made a tough job tougher. Between a spreading virus and new government regulations, she started asking herself a life changing question: “Can I keep doing this? Am I going to have enough families to at least meet to where I’m staying in the black?”

Mollison said she has talked to fellow childcare providers who have considered retirement.

Valerie Cable is executive director of Daycare Connection. The organization helps parents find childcare and Cable said she's heard of providers considering retirement as well.

“For the most part, those were people who were thinking, 'Hmmm I’m going to retire in a couple of years anyway. With me down from 8 children to 2, I might as well go and hang up my family daycare provider hat now.' But in general, they sustained," Cable said.

The industry appears to be sustaining according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The agency's data shows jobs for childcare workers is expected to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030. The numbers indicate the growth is considered as fast as average for other jobs.

Cable explained many parents that come to her organization are frantic to find a spot for their child.

“Parents tend to call us very harried looking for care and we say to them 'Call us four months before you’re actually looking for care.' And they say, 'But 18 places have told me they can’t find care.'"

Cable explained there's no problem finding childcare if parents look at family daycare home, which is smaller than daycare centers.

However, Cable adds the pandemic is creating a unique issue for providers no matter what their size is.

“There are more mommy's and daddy’s working from home now and sustaining that kind of work environment and because of that, they’ve chosen not to use care as often," Cable said.

Despite an uncertain future, Cable insists there will always be a place for family daycare.

Mollison believes the pandemic has shined a brighter light on the importance of childcare providers.

“When the pandemic hit and people realized how foundational childcare is for the economy and for society, we kind of feel like we’re finally being seen as how important we are," she said.