Many school districts across the Valley are so short staffed they're being forced to slash the number of positions available for their before and after school childcare programs, resulting in huge wait lists and putting parents in a bind.
Madison Elementary School District in Phoenix currently has 30 open positions to fill. They sent out a letter to parents back in March giving them a heads up about the shortages. Here were some of the highlights:
"We have been experiencing staffing shortages which have resulted in long waitlists for our programs."
"We have to maintain certain staff-to-child ratios at all times."
"We currently have 14 open part-time preschool aide positions and 31 open part-time club leader positions."
"Spread the word! More staff is the solution to our waitlist."
Madison has eight schools in the district. They have 1,000 students that participate in their before and after school programs. Officials say the waitlist is enormous.
"Currently we're sitting at over 300 kids on the waitlist," said Quisha Breiling, director for community education.
Breiling says the pandemic led to staff changing careers or retiring. College students who worked the programs moved on to other things.
That, along with parents having to return to the workforce, created the perfect storm.
"The demand is increasing, but the supply of our staff is decreasing," Breiling said.
The Madison Elementary School District is not alone. Phoenix Elementary School District is also reporting short staff for its Extended Day programs, and parents in Deer Valley Unified School District say they've experienced the same.
Staff at Childtime Learning says they've had parents who couldn't get a spot in their school district programs enrolling in their private childcare services.
Breiling says it's unfortunate but parents are being forced to make tough choices, like quitting a job to care for the kids or worse.
"These parents are forced to have their kids home by themselves, which depending on the age of the child, may not be the safest place for them," she said.
From arts and crafts to sports activities, Breiling says there are lots of available positions in the Madison Elementary District for people who want to help kids. She says both morning and evening hours are available and schedules are flexible.
"Just come in and work one day a week and try it out and see if it's something that fits for you," she said.
Apply at madisonaz.org.