COVID-19 tightens child care screws

Wages low for workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for child care providers to offer the service, a child care advocate said this week.

Provider requirements are contained in a 17-page document produced by the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, Joy Sheedy of Prevention Works! said Wednesday.

“They had to reduce classroom size, reduce the adults in the classroom, and that’s really affected the bottom line,” she said at a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce presentation.

The limited hours that schools are open to abide by COVID-19 health restrictions has added to the challenge presented by selecting from fewer and fewer providers, a meeting attendee said.

“So many of our staff, they don’t even know what to do right now,” she said.

Then there’s the ongoing issue of wages.

Many child care worker jobs tend to be low paying, from minimum wage to $15 an hour, Sheedy said.

She said they can expect to make minimum wage of $13.50 an hour to about $15.

But child care home providers can make $60,000 annually or more.

“They have the potential to make a good living,” Sheedy said.

Yvette Cline of Prevention Works! said low wages hurt the field.

“The people that are going into it are saying, ‘Why do I want to spend the money to get an education to work at minimum wage, which will not support my family?’ ” she said.

All child-care workers receive criminal background checks and must know first aid and how to administer CPR.

Family child care home providers must have a high school diploma and earn an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Initial Certificate by completing 12 ECE credits within five years of opening.

Home child-care assistant teachers, child care center lead teachers and assistant teachers must have a high-school diploma and the ECE Initial Certificate within five years of employment.

Additional information is available at dcyf.wa.gov.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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