GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Finding childcare has been difficult throughout 2020 and now in 2021, as more Michigan childcare centers and at-home daycares close their doors due to safety concerns or staffing shortages.
Parents are desperately calling, trying to find a center to take in their children as they slowly return back to the workplace.
“They’re frantic. One woman was crying," Annie A's Childcare owner Andrea Allen said as she recalls parents calling her.
Annie A's in Vicksburg is a small at-home daycare with a maximum capacity of six children. Allen is completely full with a waiting list that's quickly growing.
“There is a huge demand. I get probably three phone calls a week," Allen said.
Tity Tots Learning Center in Grand Rapids has the space to take in up to 37 children, but they just don't have the staff.
“When we first opened we had eight staff members. Now we’re down to five," owner Kristal Morgan said. "It’s really tough. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months."
Now months later, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, an additional 49 childcare centers shut their doors since March 2021 and an additional 96 at-home childcare centers did as well. Meaning, more centers are shutting their doors more quickly, just as more parents are heading back into the workplace.
“It’s very unsettling," executive director of Southwest Childcare Resources Center, April Goodwin said.
Goodwin has made it her organization's mission to provide more affordable childcare programs and resources to childcare center owners. Goodwin knows that without those centers, the strain falls on parents and the kids themselves.
“Hang in there because we really need you. The children need you," she said.