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'Hard to hire': Green Bay child care providers, lawmakers search for solutions in staffing drought

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 23:58:55-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — As a mother balancing two different occupations, Kayla Ganzel says she could use a little extra help at her jobs.

"It's definitely some days it can be rough, but we make it work," she said.

The Executive Director of Green Bay's Innovative Playhouse says her child care center has just seven employees without any backups. So she's playing a number of roles.

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As a mother balancing two different occupations, Kayla Ganzel says she could use a little extra help at her jobs.

"Whether it's cleaning, cooking, making meals, getting the office stuff done, trying to be a teacher, making sure we stay in ratio for the state guidelines," Ganzel said.

According to the Economic Policy Institute,child care workers' families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other families.

"It's hard to hire anybody, because nobody wants to work for what child care pays," Ganzel said. "It's one of the lowest-paid careers out there."

On Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson suggested having mothers on welfare staff child care facilities. State Democrats have called the plan an 'out-of-touch' agenda.

"When we do interview somebody, it's like we want to take them because there's nobody out there," Ganzel said. "But then we realize we may have not made the right choice."

Ganzel says 95 percent of her interviews don't show up or choose to take another job.

Per Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W., 39 Brown County programs shut down permanently over the last three years.

"There are staff who quit because they didn't want to continue working and put themselves at risk," Early Childhood Consultant Bob Pekol said.

A report released earlier this month by Wells Fargo economists found nearly half a million American families don't have reliable childcare.

"Unfortunately, there even comes to the point where they're looking at leaving their kids in unregulated care, which can be a little scary," Pekol said.

While she waits for extra assistance, Ganzel is staying hopeful. She says she's not worried about the money.

"One thing with child care is you have to do it because you like it," she said. "It can't be just wanting a check."