Dealing with staffing issues at daycare

Our daycare is currently having staffing issues in my daughter's class (kids under two). We are normally staffed with five teachers and two recently quit and haven't been replaced (so down 40%). The school doesn't have a good estimate for when the teachers will be replaced and isn't making any promising projections. It sounds like it could be 2020 before we have even one replaced. So at the moment, administrative staff and other teachers are filling in and ensuring the legal minimum staffing ratio is met. There's a lot more people in the room throughout the day for short bursts. This makes me concerned the quality of care will be significantly worse for some time, and with so many different teachers, the continuity of each kid's day (diapers, feedings) seems like it will be disrupted. It seems like part of my daughter's lunch wasn't fed to her on Friday, for example. And of course we are paying the same tuition. Has anyone dealt with this problem (major understaffing/ flux in care) before? Did you just weather it out or start planning for alternate care? We have otherwise been happy at this daycare, but I'm pretty nervous about the next few months and I'm not on any other waiting lists.

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Yikes! Our daycare has a few transitions a year, but almost always a floater teacher is converted to the FTE spot or they find an FTE within 2-3 weeks... Our daycare pays a living wage with great retirement and health benefits so rentention and recruitment are both strong. We chose the center since many teachers had 5, 10 or 20 yrs of tenure! Care should not struggle during a transition and they should have a pool of subs they can consistently draw upon in these situations. I would call licensing to report concerns so they receive an unannounced visit. That will give you a pulse of if things are ok in this transition. But I would also look at other centers. If they lost 2 teachers in a month and say it will take a full quarter to replace them that says there are issues with management or inadequate comp and benefits...

The advice you got to call licensing was just plain spiteful and prompted me to give you my two cents. Have you tried talking with the daycare? You said in your post that staffing ratios are being met, and maybe there is a misunderstanding about the lunch? Unless you talk with the daycare you will not receive any reassurances or enough information to make an informed decision about how to proceed. Just like your employer does not know how long you will stay with the company, daycares and preschools have no control over how long a teacher will stay. As a director of a thirty-year-old preschool, we have had the hardest time hiring this year. And not because of a lack of trying! Unemployment is at its lowest which means people are asking for salaries not commiserate with education or experience. That combined with the fact that a lot of people do not seem to have any work ethic or professionalism whatsoever has made it extremely difficult to hire teachers who are truly interested in working with children. People literally click and apply for the job. I do all the leg work of making dozens of calls to “applicants” who either do not have voicemail set up, voicemail is full, and a message cannot be left, or just don’t bother to return calls. If they do set up an appointment, nine times out of ten they do not show up! My advice would be that if you were previously happy with the daycare, talk to them. The grass always looks greener on the other side. Communication is the key! Good luck.

I personally would start looking for another daycare.  It's not a good sign that two teachers in the same class quit at the same time.  That could signal a problem with the director's relationship with the staff that won't go away (do you know if there is a history of staff turnover?)  It's also not a good sign that parents are being kept in the dark about when replacement teachers might come on board, or what the daycare is doing to recruit new teachers.  I agree with the previous poster who suggested calling licensing to inquire about staff-to-child ratios. If teachers from other classes are filling in, isn't that shorting the other classes? You don't have to file a complaint to find out if your daycare is in compliance. All daycares are subject to yearly unannounced visits; maybe it's time for your daycare to get one.