BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – The coronavirus pandemic has caused a shortage of many things, including daycare employees. And families in our region are feeling the effects.
For Botetourt County resident and working mother of two Meredith Thompson, it was a typical weekday for her family until she went to drop off her 6-month-old son Liam at his Roanoke County daycare.
“And they said, ‘Unfortunately we’ve reached capacity for the babies and we don’t have a spot for him today.’ So I was disappointed and shocked but I understand they have rules they have to comply with so it’s just really frustrating having to figure out what to do,” said Thompson.
When turned away, Thompson has to ask her employer for the day off or to work from home and hope a family member is able to help take care of Liam.
“For having to go into my office, bring my baby into work which, again my employer is fantastic about that, but it is a little bit embarrassing showing up with an infant in a professional work environment,” said Thompson.
According to the National Child Care Association, the industry has lost about a third of its workforce during the pandemic. The daycare Thompson relies on has told families before they’re understaffed.
“It’s really just a really difficult time for everyone. For the staff there and also for the parents trying to make this work,” she said.
Thompson says from now on she’ll be trying to get to daycare earlier in hopes of Liam getting a spot.
“You don’t want to race to get there to butt somebody else out because you know what that’s like, but at the same time I can’t continue to take off work,” said Thompson.
Thompson says she has looked into other daycares in the area but most places have waiting lists and some don’t take in infants like Liam.