Staffing shortages leave parents struggling to find child care ahead of summer

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Businesses across Minnesota are battling seasonal staffing challenges ahead of the summer months and it’s causing childcare problems for some parents.

“It has been a very tough year navigating child care,” Melissa Carlton, a Bloomington mom, said.

Carlson, like many parents, is scrambling to find summer child care for her kids.

“Probably spend some time with grandparents, probably begged some other friends to watch them, a combination of using babysitters, but I’m not sure if this point,” Carlson said.

Carlson was planning to sign her kids up for summer programs in Bloomington, but when registration opened, she was waitlisted within minutes.

“Trying to find other traditional care would cost more than my mortgage payment every month. So there’s just no other affordable options,” she said.

Bloomington recreation officials said they’re also running out of options.

“It’s hard to know these programs that are so important to families and kids that they’re just not going to be available because of the staffing shortage,” Allison Warren, Bloomington recreation manager, said.

Warren said normally hundreds apply for the summer jobs, but not this year.

Applications opened in January. They need to fill 50 counselor spots, but less than 25 people applied. The city had to cut programs and reduce capacity to make up for the lack of staffing.

Warren said their waitlists are filled with hundreds of kids.

“It’s a tight labor market all around. We’re hearing from businesses large and small all across the state that they’re challenged finding workers,” Doug Loon, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce representative, said.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sees the staffing shortages firsthand.

Officials said the job industry is changing and it’s up to employers to adapt and keep up.

“Creativity matters. New recruitment strategies matter and making sure that they’re competitive in the wage space so they can attract talent,” Loon said.