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By Jonnelle Marte (Reuters) – Rochelle Wilcox, the owner of three childcare centers in New Orleans, receives 10 to 15 phone calls nearly every day for each school from parents asking if there is space for their children.

But Wilcox has to turn them away. While her enrollment is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, she doesn’t have the staff to take on more students.

“I have to say that we’re full,” said Wilcox, who capped the wait list for the three schools at 140 children, compared to the more typical range of 45 to 60. She estimates the schools could accept nearly 40 more children if she could hire 10 more staffers.

Childcare centers across the country are struggling to find enough qualified educators to be fully staffed for back-to-school season, an obstacle that has some schools reducing planned enrollment and cutting back hours. Owners of childcare centers say more workers are quitting and fewer people than usual are applying for open positions.

The staffing crunch is further limiting childcare options for parents eager to get back to work. It also creates more hurdles for working mothers, who were disproportionately pushed out of the labor market when schools went virtual and childcare centers closed because of the pandemic… Read More

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