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Staff shortage leaves unmet demand for after-school programs | WGN Radio 720

Returning to classrooms for school children across the country does not mean returning to work for many parents who feel they lack important after-school programs because their school days are longer than they were when they were students.

School-based providers cite the difficulty of hiring and retaining staff as the number one reason they haven’t fully recovered from a pandemic shutdown, and they’re just as frustrating as their parents turning their backs. Say you are doing it.

“We’re always in flux,” said Ester Buendia, assistant director of the after-school program at the Northside Independent School District in Texas. “We couldn’t catch up this year.”

Prior to the pandemic, the after-school program in the San Antonio district had 1,000 staff serving more than 7,000 students in approximately 100 elementary and junior high schools. Today, less than half of the employees oversee about 3,300 students. Over 1,100 students are on the waiting list for a program called the Learning Tree. This program brings academic, recreational and social fulfillment until 6:30 pm daily.

It is difficult to conclude how many parents of school-aged children were unable to resume work outside the home due to the available care gap. However, research has pointed out a cycle in which parents, mostly mothers, are at home for their children because they cannot find after-school shows.

Jen Reinhardt, Vice President of Strategy and Programming for Nonprofit After School, said: Alliance working to increase programming.

“If a woman doesn’t return to work, everything is very intertwined because she doesn’t have the staff needed for these after-school opportunities,” she said.

By the end of 2021, a record high of 24.6 million children had no access to the program, according to an after-school alliance survey, but cost and availability were barriers. Of the more than 1,000 program providers surveyed, 54% had a waiting list. This is a significantly higher percentage than in the past.

Wells Fargo reported that the labor shortage in childcare, where women make up 96% of the workforce, is more serious than in other industries that struggle to find reliable employees. Analysts concluded that employment in early March was 12.4% below pre-COVID-19 levels, forcing an estimated 460,000 households to make other arrangements.

“Access to affordable childcare has been shown many times to encourage mothers to participate in the workforce,” the report said.

According to a January Census Bureau data survey, 6% of parents with children aged 5 to 11 did not work because their children did not attend school or day care. According to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center, parents of children aged 5 to 12 had 6% less work in the last quarter of 2021.

Erica Gonzalez of San Antonio secured an after-school space for her 2nd and 6th grade daughters after entering the grade on the waiting list. This allowed her to maintain her schedule at her nonprofit organization and to coach her husband, her teacher.

In anticipation of the crowded spots, Gonzales tried to get the kids into the learning tree as soon as possible, and she kept in touch with the school while each kids made a waiting list.

“We really hoped that a spot would be opened for them. Fortunately, they did,” Gonzales said.

Without the program, Gonzales said she and her husband had to come up with a way to take her daughter from school to her husband and wait for him to finish his work.

“I probably had to go pick them up, drop them off, and change my schedule to get back to work all the time,” she said. “We would have understood something, but it was definitely a challenge.”

Rico X said school-based pre-school and after-school programs overseen by YMCA in Middle Tennessee had to limit registration due to staff shortages, leaving about 70% of the pre-pandemic capacity. Said. There were as many as 85 students on one of the 105 sites. Now less than 60.

“Some of our waiting list sites have parents in despair, and unless there is a place to open, there isn’t much we can really do,” he said.

He said the YMCA, which sends staff to schools to run the program, is considering another salary increase in hopes of attracting more applicants. The provider has already raised the site director’s minimum wage from $ 13 to $ 16 per hour for other employees and from $ 2 to $ 13 per hour for other employees.

“For most of our family, this is their lifeline and not only will they be able to work, but they will also give them the peace of mind that their children are in a safe and attractive environment. It’s 100. % Lifeline, “X said.

According to an after-school alliance survey, 71% of programs took action to attract and retain staff. The most common was salary increases, and in some cases used federal pandemic bailouts in the form of childcare stabilization grants. Others offer free childcare to employees, as well as contracts and paid leave.

“We fell into a pandemic with a tremendous unmet demand for after-school and summer programs. Of course, like almost every other challenge, the pandemic only exacerbated that challenge,” Rinehart said. I am.

Kasey Blackburn-Jiron, Extended Learning Coordinator for the Unified School District in West Contra Costa, California, said the school district would skip scheduled job interviews or go through the hiring process and probably pay more after employment. A place to make less demands.

“My best guess is that I’m not paying them enough. We don’t give them enough time,” Blackburn Giron said.

“We are asking these $ 17, $ 18, and $ 19 people to do miracles,” she said. “Most of them don’t have a bachelor’s degree, but we still want you to be a great youth development practitioner. You need to be able to teach and model your social and emotional skills. There is a need to be able to teach 21st century skills and to be able to deal with young people from generations of trauma. “

She said state legislators recently increased funding for the program, which could lead to better payments, but that money won’t reach the program until near the end of the school year.

“Working families need a school-based after-school program, and we couldn’t meet that need,” Blackburn-Jiron said.

Staff shortage leaves unmet demand for after-school programs | WGN Radio 720

Source link Staff shortage leaves unmet demand for after-school programs | WGN Radio 720

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