Parents scramble to find childcare during unexpected school closures

SPOKANE, Wash. – Unexpected school closures are taking a toll on parents whose kids are not old enough to stay home alone. 

They are looking for childcare, but it is not easy to come by. 

Heather Glen is a mom and full-time student eager to get back into the workforce, but the pandemic is putting a pause on those plans. 

Glen’s daughter Vienna is seven years old. She cannot stay at home alone and she is not always in school either right now. 

“Her classroom and a couple other classrooms at her school have quarantined, so they’re doing online Zoom classes for the next week at least,” Glen said. 

Glen cannot find childcare either. 

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” said Kerra Bower, Owner of Little Scholars Early Learning Center. 

Bower said she is dealing with the aftermath of schools closing down and parents scrambling for care. She is also short-staffed. Many of her employees have kids of their own and have had to call out due to COVID. 

“These moms aren’t able to go to work. They’re not able to be here which then causes a ripple effect, and I’m closing down classrooms because I don’t have anyone to run that room,” Bower said. 

“As schools go back and forth between remote and in person, this is something that may come, so I know a lot of providers are trying to think about ‘How can we serve those kids and families?’” said Nicole Rose, Assistant Secretary of Early Learning for the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families. 

The Little Scholars staff is filling in however they can, but Bower’s worried about future school closures. 

“Who knows what’s going to happen next month and the months to follow?” she said. 

Meantime, Glen is left wondering when finding a job will work out. 

“I really don’t know if I would be able to return to work as soon as I would like,” she said. 

The Washington DCYF wants to help families looking for childcare. Click here or here to get connected with care in the community. 

Idaho families can learn about child support services here. 

READ: Spokane student absence rates rise while schools remain open

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