A plea for daycares to stay open

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Jordyn Rossignol of Caribou is the owner of Miss Jordyn’s Child Development Center. She is a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, District 4.

Pamela (pseudonym), a 35-year-old nurse on the maternity floor, finishes strapping her 4-year-old daughter into her car seat and snaps her 6-month-old son’s car seat into its base when she goes realizes that she forgot her cooler of breast milk on the kitchen counter. She runs inside to catch him when his cell phone rings. It’s her children’s nursery. The director is in tears as she explains to Pamela that they can’t open the center today because they don’t have enough staff to meet the legal ratio of children to staff.

Pamela feels her stomach knot. Her husband is on a business trip and she has to attend to two C-sections scheduled today at the local hospital. What will she do? She has no back-up care and relies on her ability to drop off her children to be taken care of four days a week by this highly sought-after daycare.

Pamela gets in her car, takes a deep breath, and calls her boss to let him know she won’t be there. Before unloading her children to bring them back into the house, she takes a few extra minutes and cries into her hands. , knowing that she has no more earned time off and that she will not be paid for this unexpected day of unemployment.

Meanwhile, back on the maternity floor, Pamela’s boss is frantically looking for locum nurses to cover not only Pamela’s shift, but also a CNA’s shift and a second RN shift. because their children go to the same daycare as Pamela’s children. What will they do? They already have two C-sections scheduled and will not be prepared for other patients who may go into labor today.

Do we see a pattern here? Does this story sound familiar to you? It’s because that’s what happens in our country every week, if not every day. You can read in the news that bills have been passed recently to provide relief to this specific workforce. Yet these bills are just simple bandages on an otherwise massive and fatal haemorrhage for the industry.

Daycares, including mine, cannot afford to pay our staff competitive salaries or benefits without increasing costs to families. School fees for children are already the largest expense in many households, often more than a mortgage on their home. One $200 monthly premium to our staff through US bailout funds is certainly appreciated, but that alone is not enough to stop our teachers from seeking other work with much higher salaries and reliable health insurance.

In my daycare alone, I serve over 98 children. Families across Aroostook County rely on my staff of less than 20 to show up every day, for 10-hour shifts, ensuring parents and caregivers can continue to show up for their potential jobs. and keep their families afloat financially. My center put families in the same position that Pamela faced when we found ourselves understaffed and unable to open. Usually this is resolved within one day and we are able to open the next day.

However, the reason I am writing this urgent plea, an SOS if you will, is because very soon I fear we will be making a similar appeal to our families. Except that the call I will make is to inform them that we will completely close our center.

In three weeks, I lost five employees to other job opportunities that not only offer higher salaries, but also benefits that I cannot afford. We cannot function without teachers. Parents can’t go to work without us. Businesses can’t operate with parents stuck at home without childcare.

We’ve been talking about this for two years now with little action, but we’re just running out of time. We must act now.

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