PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR)– Pulaski County mom, Katherine Blevins says in about 30 days she’s losing care for her two kids, and it could cost her her job if something doesn’t change.
Blevins says childcare in pulaski is becoming harder to come by after she received notice on Wednesday, March 8th, another location is shutting down.
She explains her kids were going to that location five days a week. Typically the children arrive as early as 7 a.m. and leave around 5 p.m.
Now, she is looking for other options like getting a babysitter, but that is getting difficult too.
“The babysitters have historically been inconsistent, but there has been one or two that have been consistent. So, that was great it was weird there would be some that would stop talking to me, and I would be like what do I do now?” said Blevins.
She also worries about what this could mean for her full-time job.
“I’m anxious that because of the childcare situation of where it is at again, it could impact me, and I really don’t want that to happen because I love my job,” said Blevins.
She says all she is looking for is someone to take care of her kids and love them as their own.
“Make sure that they are able to handle their challenges. They are typically kids, but be trained in first aid and CPR if possible,” said Blevins.
‘The Community Foundation of the New River Valley,’ works with donors across the area to bring grant funding to schools and local organizations, while focusing on the need for early childhood education and other issues.
“It has always been hard in this area for folks to access childcare wait lists are very long,” said Jessica Wirgau, CEO of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.
Wirgau explains early childhood education has been a major focus for the foundation for the last decade. She adds in the New River Valley it is difficult to get into a “quality” childcare center that is focused on education and preparing kids for school and beyond.
“Particularly after the pandemic things are getting much more difficult. We are working on how to expand childcare options so we better support the childcare workforce so we can better attract people to that workforce,” said Wirgau.
She says they also have resources beyond just childcare.
“Do they have what they need when it comes to food assistance or mental health support? We work with a variety of different partners whether it is public schools, local government, business, or social service agencies,” said Wirgau.
She describes some of the critical issues as hindering the childcare industry.
“We really pay very little to our childcare workforce, so before the pandemic, it was hard to attract people to the industry. To convince them to go get a degree in early childhood education and then to come out and make 12 dollars an hour,” said Wirgau.
She says on top of that, dealing with children can be challenging.
“We have found that the workforce is stressed our childcare providers are having a lot of trouble attracting and retaining folks that are going to other jobs to pay more,” said Wirgau.
Although, there is hope as state funding is working to attract more people to the workforce, and expand access for families.
Including resources like the ‘Birth to Five Hub‘ which highlights available childcare spots for parents like Blevins.
“For me, I just want to see something happen where they can go to school every day. I call it school because it is where they can learn social skills and a bunch of other things,” said Blevins.
She acknowledges the national issues with early childhood education but says she hopes to see things change in pulaski.