Four Childcare Providers Discuss Concerns About Impact Of Proposed LANL Childcare Facility – Los Alamos Reporter


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The Los Alamos Reporter met with representatives of four local childcare facilities last week at their request to discuss a Reporter interview with Los Alamos National Laboratory Staff Director Frances Chadwick on the current issues LANL employees are having finding childcare and what the Lab is doing to address that.  See

The child care reps believe that LANL’s message to the public and the providers is in conflict with what they are actually doing and it is misleading. They believe that if LANL opens a facility and covers the cost of the lease and potential other expenses to the entity as it has said it will, it will most likely “put someone out of business”.

“The child cares cannot compete with free, no business can. This is direct and unfair competition with the local childcares and not in the community’s best interests. Some of the larger and/or more established businesses will endure. However, the new daycares that are struggling to establish their business will feel the impact and new businesses will not flourish,” one owner said. 

She asked why LANL is choosing to have its own facility rather than subsidizing local providers to grow and meet the Lab’s needs. 

“LANL has provided zero financial support through grants, etc. for local providers. However, they have provided financial support to Los Alamos Public Schools, PEEC, plus several other Northern New Mexico entities through the LANL Foundation,” she said.

The owners say they have spaces available but the real issue is staffing and that LANL has not made any effort to gather verified data from the providers or from the community. They say a quick census they took last week revealed some 168 available spots for children, including 47 at the Ark, 18 at Ponderosa Montessori, 50 at Little Forest and 19 at Dragonfly.

Some of the owners attended a virtual Early Childhood Education and Care Department meeting Oct. 21 where they were told that the child care industry is experiencing a nationwide workforce shortage and that the Number 1 challenge for child care providers in New Mexico is recruiting and retaining qualified staff. They also heard that many child care facilities around New Mexico have at least one empty classroom due to staffing shortages.

The local childcare providers that met with the Reporter last week suspect that LANL has identified a preferred operator for the child care facility it is proposing. 

“We think perhaps this operator might be from out-of-town. We feel that LANL is moving quickly without input from the community as if they have a well-executed plan already in place.

A meeting was reportedly held in late September and the four childcare providers said it was not a meeting to work with the providers but to announce that LANL was opening a facility. 

“There was no discussion of alternative options or solutions and very little gathering of information from providers. It was simply a public announcement of what LANL had already decided to do,” one provider stated. 

That meeting had representation from a dozen childcare providers, Los Alamos Public School, First Born, Los Alamos Family Council, LANL and UNM-LA.

On November 11, an anonymous letter was sent to local media through Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce executive director Ryn Herrmann. See Part of the letter complains that LANL went ahead with its request for expressions of interest seeking operators for its proposed facility but that no meeting of the Child Care Task Force has been announced by the Chamber of Commerce since the initial one in September.

 “This is the perfect storm for local childcare providers. After navigating care for families during COVID and feeling the effects of loss of enrollment due to  the new Universal Pre-K program, we have been dealing with higher costs for goods and salaries, local providers, now we are facing a possible loss of enrollment in our facilities to the proposed LANL facility,” one provider said.

Note: The Reporter has learned that the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday announced an hour-long meeting of the Child Care Task for Wednesday afternoon. The invitation noted that the goal of the task force is “to have an opportunity and space to work on the childcare issues in Los Alamos County and to be able to communicate more effectively”. The chamber invitation states, “This is not going to be a task force against LANL. This is going to be an effort to communicate, focus on workforce challenges, and best practices”.

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