EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – It’s no secret businesses are having trouble finding employees as the economy starts reopening. One of the major impediments to people going back to work is finding childcare.
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was in Eau Claire learning about the problem locally. First News at Nine’s Max Cotton joined the secretary earlier.
The desire to return to work, is being dampened for many parents.
“If they don’t have a place for their children to go, they can’t work,” said one Eau Claire parent.
To get an understanding of the challenges, parents in the Chippewa Valley are facing, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited “days gone by early learning” in Eau Claire Tuesday.
“It’s a struggle all across this country. And it’s not just getting childcare, it’s getting good quality, high quality childcare. I think that that’s the key,” said Walsh.
Loralie Wallerius owns the center. As a business owner she is impacted by both sides of the childcare shortage:
Loralie Wallerius, Days Gone by Early Learning Owner said, “If my employees have a child who’s sick, that employee’s gone. I can’t just not staff that classroom; I have to have someone else to come in and take that spot. It’s no different for any other business in America, you have to have employees to be able to function.”
She says, locally there aren’t enough options for parents.
“In our area I’d say that the majority of centers are full. If they’re a high-quality center and they’re offering good-quality care, they have waiting lists and so getting into those centers if very difficult for families,” said Wallerius.
Wallerius sees firsthand the impact that lack of quality childcare options have on people trying to go back to work.
“I would say we get calls almost every week for parents who are starting a new job, looking for a new job, and they’re looking for childcare before they know they can start a job. So, if they can’t find child care, they can’t accept a job,” said Wallerius.
In Eau Claire, Max Cotton, First News at Nine.
Wallerus says she has kids in her child care center from all over the region, including from as far as Mondovi, Osseo and Eleva.
After leaving Eau Claire, Walsh visited DairyLand Power Cooperative Service Center in La Crosse.