LANE COUNTY, Ore. — The staffing crisis is still hitting businesses hard. One local mom is speaking out after she got a letter saying she could no longer send her son to his usual childcare center.
Since fall, Amy Stein has taken her 5-year-old son to Chambers KinderCare in Eugene.
“I was happy with that, happy with their program,” Stein said.
But then, starting in October, things began to change.
“They had to do rotations of shutting down classrooms due to lack of staffing. They told me they were hiring more staff, and this closure would stop,” Stein said.
Then, she received a letter that put her in a tight spot.
“They told me in person as well that they were no longer able to keep his school-aged classroom open along with two other classrooms. I’m guessing there’s something like 30 families affected,” Stein said.
The letter said because of the staffing crisis and a delay in getting background checks approved by the state, starting November 21, until further notice, they can no longer care for Amy’s son.
“It’s hard because I am my son’s only income; I don’t know what I’m going to do come the 21st,” Stein said.
A spokesperson with KinderCare told KEZI in a statement, “There is a nationwide shortage of childcare teachers following the pandemic and an increased need for childcare centers as parents return to work. We’ve certainly felt that staffing crunch at the chambers KinderCare center. All KinderCare teachers must pass a state and national background check, which takes time to process. We are working as quickly as we can with the state to give Eugene’s families the support they need.”
Tamara Goertel, the owner of Hayden Early Learning Center, said they’ve had a lot of turnover in the last few months. She said they’re down about four to five employees.
“I just don’t want to see the quality of care that we want to have diminished because I can’t find the staffing, or proper staffing, or the qualified staff,” Goertel said.
Goertel said she, unfortunately, occasionally has to turn families away.
“Parents are constantly calling, but unfortunately, we can’t always meet those needs,” Goertel said.
She said that’s largely in part due to waiting on employees’ background checks to come in through the state.
“Right now, what used to be two weeks to get a background check is taking upwards to a month or month and a half, and I can’t wait that long to hire a teacher because they can’t do their job. I need them now so I can provide for families who have to go to work,” Goertel said.
A spokesperson with the state’s Early Learning Division said they’ve ramped up their hiring for background checks and said they went from a team of six to thirty to help with the backlog.
They said there is light at the end of the tunnel as they are currently processing applications that came in on October 31, and they are about to be caught up.