“I love the ‘aha’ moments, the love they see, the joy on their face,” Hay said.
Hay and others at the Learning Grove are noticing additional needs in kids as they navigate 2020 and beyond in a new normal.
“We’ve had multiple classrooms that have not been able to open and it’s not because there’s competition to get a pre-school slot for parents, it’s not a marketing issue, it’s a staffing issue,” said Learning Grove CEO Shannon Starkey-Taylor.
She said the pandemic has left people with a different mindset. “We’ve all changed because of COVID and I think there are some things that are good that came out of it, but that’s what’s effecting us right now. Couple it with you can choose to work remotely. You can choose not our field because it’s not high paying,” she said.
That leaves Hay and others working longer shifts and being flexible. “If that’s what I need to do — work longer shifts for them to be in a steady environment — then that’s what I’m going to do,” Hay said.
Starkey-Taylor said they will not sit in frustration. Instead, they’re advocating to lawmakers in Frankfort and Columbus to look at helping who they call the “workforce behind the workforce.”
“We need to put our money where our policies are and really change that. If we’re the workforce behind the workforce, then we should be a part of companies’ benefit plans — it should be medical, dental, tuition reimbursement and child care,” she said.
Hay said she’s going to continue to be a constant in these kids’ lives. “Everything here is for the kids. To grow them, to get a better environment for them, better life, better future,” Hay said.