ELLSWORTH — The afterschool program operated by the Down East Family YMCA at the Moore Center has limited the number of children it can accommodate this fall because of staffing issues.
“There are some curveballs,” Director of Childcare Crystal Follette said.
The program, which usually accommodates up to 60 children, is running at half capacity. With state licensing requiring one teacher for every 13 school-age children, Follette said if more staff can be hired, then enrollment can creep back up.
“We’re actively looking for teachers in every platform we can think of,” she said. “There is such a need in the community.”
Enrollment in the early learning program for younger children has also been curtailed, by about 25 percent, Follette said, for the same reason: staffing issues.
“There’s staffing limitations straight across the board,” she said.
When a parent calls and no slot is available, staff typically provide names of other facilities, Follette said. “But from what we can gather, everybody’s in the same boat. No one has the staff to run at 100 percent capacity.”
The YMCA also runs an early learning center on Beechland Road. That program and the one at the Moore Center currently have waiting lists, as does the Moore Center’s afterschool program.
During the 2020-21 school year, the Y worked with school administrators to create remote-learning support at the Moore Center, for students on their remote-school days. Then, students followed a hybrid model of in-school and remote learning. But this school year starts with full in-school learning and fewer places for children to go after school, leaving some parents scrambling.
“We have a lot of parents that…can’t go back to work because they can’t find care,” Shauna Esposito-Caldwell, director of operations at the Moore Center, said when the school year ended in June. Nearly three months later, with schools opening this week, the childcare issue for many parents remains unsolved.