SAN FRANCISCO - If you're having trouble finding before or after school care you're not alone. Childcare experts say there is a shortage of childcare workers just as families are heading back to school.
Finding after-school care is a problem around the Bay Area, and could have a broader impact if those parents can't get back to work.
As summer break winds down, families are preparing to go back to school and for many finding after-school care is an unexpected challenge.
"It's been a struggle," said Veronica Yunes. "We've looked up options. But, I will be staying with the kids and I will be taking them to other activities. We were hoping to maybe get to the YMCA."
Parents around the Bay Area, even across the country, say they're facing the same problem. "So, I live in Salt Lake City and it absolutely is a problem," said Jessica Cooper. "My kids actually have the advantage of going to a private school. But even in a private school they really had to struggle with keeping numbers down and keeping to schedule after care in advance, so it's really limited who can get in."
Gina Fromer from the Children's Council, a childcare advocacy group, says there is a widespread shortage of childcare workers.
For instance she says in years' past the YMCA childcare programs in San Francisco could accommodate 12,000 students, now she says that number is closer to just 4,000.
There are several factors at play; fewer college students have returned to school and are simply not available for part-time child care work, and many full time or career childcare workers cannot go back on the job yet.
"We know we don't have enough teachers, and some of them have had to go back into their own homes to watch their own kids because they cannot afford or they cannot find care for their own children," said Fromer.
Fromer says childcare was already scarce before the pandemic, and now it's even worse.
What that means is there are parents that have to make the hard decision between going to work or staying home to take care of children. "Kids who can't afford to pay for nannies and specific programs are on a waiting list," said Fromer. "So, what is going to happen to the parent? They can't go back to work, they can't go back to school they can't support their families. This is really disruptive to families."
Wesley Bell, runs Golden Gate Skateboarding as a summer and after-school camp and says parents should think outside the box to find programs like his. Even so, he says it's been tough for him to staff up for the school year. "It is kind of, with things opening up, I have been losing staff," said Bell. "But, I'm losing them back to schools back to things that are reopening. So, If you work with kids right now, it's kind of all hands on deck."
The Children's council says this is a problem that is impacting all communities, but is hitting Black, brown and immigrant women hardest.
The organization has a tool on their website to help connect families in need with childcare options.