Staff shortage and demand for childcare services forces Boys and Girls Clubs to create waitlist

NOW: Staff shortage and demand for childcare services forces Boys and Girls Clubs to create waitlist

ELKHART, Ind.-- The pandemic has forced many businesses and operations to completely adjust the way they do things over the past year, and some places are still struggling to get things back to normal.  

The Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County and Elkhart County are experiencing some of these pandemic effects, and are getting hit the hardest right now at their facilities with a staffing shortage and high demand for childcare services, especially now that school is back in session for many kids in the area. For the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, it has a waitlist for just pre-k students for a childcare center that it’s building of around 200 children. The biggest hurdle they’re facing is the demand for services. For the Elkhart County clubs’ “KidsCare Program,” which is an affordable before and after school program for kindergarteners through 6th grade students, they’re seeing similar numbers. They are hit hardest with a staffing shortage.

“We have about 640 members in our KidsCare Program and almost 240 on the waitlist, so we see more of that in Elkhart and Concord areas that we serve and that’s based on staffing. We just aren’t able to find enough staffing to provide care, and safe care to all the kids that need it,” Director for KidsCare, Boys and Girls Clubs of Elkhart County Area Director Dustin Newcomer said. 

According to survey data from Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s office, more than 1 in 5 Hoosiers have problems getting childcare, with this number steadily rising this past year. It’s not just the nationwide staffing shortage causing this waitlist to hit an all-time high at the Elkhart location, but it’s also because of a higher demand for childcare in the area. This is something that the Boys and Girls Clubs haven’t ever really seen before, and is the first-time facilities have needed to put services on hold for students. 

“It used to kind-of be full go, you know, a couple years ago when we had 700 kids in the program, but this is kind of the first year for waitlists,” Newcomer said. “I know some of the schools' schedules have changed a little bit, especially in Elkhart, school day hours are a little bit different this year so the demand for after school care is a lot higher than in previous years. I think just kids getting out of school earlier, and mom and dad working until 5 o'clock is kind of increased that demand.”  

Things are starting to look a little bit better for that program, as it’s bringing in new employees little by little. The organization is hoping this continues, so it can get back on track to serve all the kids it can.  

“We’re hoping it’s turning around; I know it’s something we are kind of working through daily. We are checking our waitlists and numbers on sites, but it’s hopefully trending in the right direction but it's still yet to be seen,” Newcomer said. “Hopefully we can just continue to hire more people, I direct people to apply for jobs on our website, we have spots almost open in almost any part in Elkhart County, and if you like working with kids then it’s a great career to get into.”  

Currently, there are around 17 positions open at Elkhart County locations. 

If you are interested in applying for a job, you can head to their website or click here. 

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