PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The national shortage of preschool teachers is hitting close to home, with the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County reporting half of childcare providers it recently surveyed now have a waiting list due to staffing issues.
The organization says staffing was an issue pre-pandemic and it is even worse now. Many facilities cannot fully staff.
What You Need To Know
- The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County reports half of childcare providers it recently surveyed now have a waiting list due to staffing issues.
- Due to student-to-teacher ratio requirements, Lealman YMCA Preschool Academy only has 65 children enrolled, despite the capacity to take on 131.
- Many teachers changed careers or quit their jobs earlier in the pandemic when hours were cut and work conditions changed.
Christine Loder is the director of the Lealman YMCA Preschool Academy. She had to close two of the school’s classrooms because she has been unable to hire enough teachers.
“We could potentially have 20 students in both of those classrooms but due to the shortage, we can’t do that right now,” Loder said.
On top of that, Loder says there is now just one teacher in each of her open classrooms, further affecting enrollment because of student-to-teacher ratio requirements. That means despite the capacity to take on 131 children, only 65 are currently enrolled.
Loder also takes time away from her administrative duties to help out in classrooms, though when she is at her desk, she fields calls all day from parents looking to enroll their children.
“We do get that regularly,” Loder said. “Sometimes 15 calls a day and we have to turn them down.”
Loder said she lost some of her teachers earlier on in the pandemic, when hours were cut back due to enrollment. Others made career changes entirely.