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Las Vegas child care center faces challenges amid nationwide worker shortage

Posted at 8:07 PM, Oct 27, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Child care centers across the Las Vegas valley are facing a major issue: not enough staff.

"Something must be happening because we’re getting a lot of phone calls from parents asking if we have room for new children," said Kids Learning Path Director Raquel Gallegos, "because their center is either shut down or they reduced their hours. Those phone calls are just flooding in like crazy now."

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A study by the Washington Post says experts agree that poor pay is driving the shortage. However, the Kids Learning Path in east Las Vegas tells a slightly different story.

"We thought maybe that was the issue in the beginning. So we bumped the amounts that people start at, but that’s still not doing anything," explained Gallegos.

The problem isn’t people applying. Gallegos says it’s people not showing up for interviews or not showing up to their first day of work after being hired. So the remaining workers are forced to work overtime and more than five days a week to keep up.

Taking time off took a 180-degree turn. Before the shortage, it was a lot easier.

"You know it’s my turn this time. Your turn next time. It takes a toll on those that do show up. They are with these kids all day long. They are putting in longer hours and having to juggle things around," Gallegos told us.

The Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Las Vegas says American Rescue Plan money is coming in to help but stress this is going to be an ongoing issue and child care needs to be a top priority.

"I think the problem we are seeing right now is the infrastructure piece. Even though there are grants and things to support our child care providers, there’s just not enough of them to support the need right now," said the director of Strong Start Initiative for the Children's Advocacy Alliance, Jamelle Nance.

"One of the things that we are doing is taking a look at job training programs," said Nance. "We recognize that it’s not just an issue of not having enough providers or having the funds to pay them, but equipping those that are going into that field to serve in that way."

The Kids Learning Path staff tell me they aren’t the only ones experiencing this issue around the valley and are hoping to get, if not all positions filled, just a few more to give current staff time to pause and breathe.