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Metro Atlanta daycare centers struggle to find workers

One year later, COVID is still having lingering effects when it comes to staffing at daycares.

ATLANTA — Across metro Atlanta, we've heard from a number of daycare struggling to find workers.

It has caused some daycares to reduce their hours and others to close all together. 

We first met Jeresha White back in May 2020 after the shelter in place mandate was lifted. She shared video of empty classrooms and hallways at Success Souvenirs Daycare taken during the 45 days her locations were closed. White showed us the COVID cleaning protocols they were taking as they planned to reopen.

RELATED: More daycare centers reopening next week, but with new rules

One year later, COVID is still having lingering effects when it comes to staffing at daycares.

"Since then it’s been a roller coaster of up and down," White said. "I can not open this location right now, not because the kids are there and not because parents aren’t ready, it’s because I don’t have a staff." 

Other daycare centers have cut kids' programs or reduced benefits in order to keep the smaller staff they do have. 

"We need people to come to work," White said. "If we don’t have people that are coming to work, our daycare centers can’t thrive."

Officials said the State has been releasing funds to help support daycares including $165 million dollars that went directly to 3,500 daycare centers to help with payroll and other needs. 

"I do believe that people with all of the pandemic resources floating around a lot of people opted to open their own businesses and then a lot of people have just gotten comfortable with being at home," White said. 

She said she also added extra insurance coverage, 401K, paid time off and other incentives but that hasn’t helped bring in employees. 

Officials with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning said many daycare workers received a one-time $1,000 "Power" payment to help supplement their income.  

However, officials also said many centers report losing workers after receiving those funds. 

Congressman Hank Johnson announced on Tuesday that an additional $6 million will go to Georgia head-start programs as part of the American Rescue Plan.

The daycare owners who talked to 11Alive said one major saving grace is that because its summer time, some children have had the option to stay with older siblings who are not in school or older relatives who may not work. 

Daycare workers said they hope to be fully staffed come this fall.