Lehigh Valley groups address the growing childcare crisis

WFMZ / Justin Backover
December 6th, 2022

“It’s scary,” said Betty Druckenmiller, Director for the Volunteers of America Children’s Center in Allentown. She says she’s only at 60% of pre-pandemic enrollment, but simply doesn’t have enough staff.

“We have had to cut hours and we have had to close the classroom, so that’s been heartbreaking in some ways,” Druckenmiller said. “I technically, right now, have four full time vacancies and unlike other programs we’ve been in existence long enough that we do offer full medical benefits, a retirement plan, paid sick, paid leave for other purposes.”

Statewide, Pennsylvania is short is about 7,000 childcare workers.

Druckenmiller says the biggest issue is pay, with it getting harder and harder to compete for workers in an industry that already struggles to turn a profit: “Many years we don’t quite break-even, but we do have a parent organization to rely on.”

“Now, you could go to McDonald’s or Target and actually make more money than working in childcare and you need no experience,” said YMCA Pre-K Teacher Shandel Sedgwick. She often struggles to find an aid for her room.

The lack of consistency making it more challenging for students already set back by COVID.

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