Parents struggle with childcare displacements, waitlists

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Staffing issues are far from over in the childcare industry. 

Providers say they’re scrambling to meet staffing ratios, as parents are running into wait lists. One mother tells News10NBC she had two business days to relocate her two young children after a Care-A-Lot location in Farmington downsized. According to the director, they didn’t have enough staff to meet demand. About 30 children were displaced.

“We found out the center was going to be closing four rooms,” said Jennifer Blanchette. She had to scramble and find another location for her one toddler and one infant.

“Of course, we weren’t the only ones, so anything in this area, everything was kind of full, waitlisted,” she said.

Executive Director for Care-A-Lot Michelle Ellis said she’s been working to place families in other locations.

“Unfortunately we did have to close some classrooms,” said Ellis. “Which is a direct effect on our families, but we were able to place a lot of those families at some other locations.”

Blanchette found a Care-A-Lot location in Henrietta but said it was too far of a commute. She decided on another daycare organization in Penfield and said she was lucky to make the transition in time. But this commute is only slightly better than driving to Henrietta.

“Like I said, the small amount of time in the window we had, we had to find something,” said Blanchette.

Renee Scholz with the Rochester Child Care Council said this is common across the industry, as providers struggle to meet ratio requirements from the state. Toddlers and infants are harder to place since they require more employees in a room.

Ratios per age group:

Infants: 4 infants to 1 professional (maximum group size 8)

Toddlers: 5 toddlers to 1 professional (maximum group size 12)

Pre-School: 7 children to 1 professional (maximum group size 18)

Pre-k: 8 children to 1 professional (maximum group size 21)

School age: 10 children – 1 professional (maximum group size 24-30) 

The result? It’s harder for families to find placement.

“We’ve had some parents literally calling in tears, they’re like I may have to quit my job,” said Scholz. “Some families from the minute they know they’re expecting, their friends are like, ‘you need to start looking.'”

So why are employees leaving? Ellis said burnout, from being short-staffed, and desire for higher wages out of the industry.

“In my 30 years of childcare, the last couple years have probably been the worst that I’ve seen for staff,” Ellis said.

“You really have to start doing your research early on,” said Blanchette. 

“Because once you have a baby, and she’s here or he’s here, it’s really too late at that point to start looking.”

Ellis said she’s been working alongside legislators to fight for better wages. She’s hoping they can receive some grant money in this year’s state budget to help out with that.

If you are a parent who found placement but is struggling to afford it, you can apply for financial help through the state. You can also head to