FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Childcare centers are struggling to keep their doors open during the Omicron variant surge.
Robin Slaton, owner of Kiddie Campus Childcare Center in Fayetteville, said childcare owners and workers are tired.
“We’re broken,” Slaton said. “That is just the bottom line, we are broken, we are at a critical, critical point.”
Slaton said COVID-19 has forced the center to shut its doors different times throughout the pandemic. If a teacher calls out sick, there aren’t replacements.
“Whatever teacher is out then that’s the classroom I have to close because I don’t have extra, there’s not subs in our industry,” Slaton said.
Kiddie Campus Childcare is licensed for 75 kids, but right now the facility is only able to take care of about 60 kids because there aren’t enough teachers.
“I have little bodies that desperately want in, but I just can’t make that happen right now,” Slaton said.
Having to close classrooms can be hard on everyone involved. Childcare Aware NWA is a service that connects families to childcare options. Co-director Michelle Wynn said it can be hard for parents to understand when classrooms and facilities have to shut down for a little bit.
“I think just letting families know, be prepared that your center could close and it’s temporarily and that they’re doing the best they can to stay open, because they want your children to be able to go there,” Wynn said.
Slaton and Wynn said childcare is a critical industry that helps keep everyone else working.
“We’re a vital source and so we really should be supported and paid for for the work that we really do,” Slaton said.