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Teacher shortages have cost Greater Cincinnati childcare centers 2,600 classroom seats

This picture was taken in 2017 at the New Horizons Child Care Center in Evanston.
Ann Thompson
This picture was taken in 2017 at the New Horizons Child Care Center in Evanston.

The number of childcare classrooms in Southwest Ohio is shrinking, and it has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now, even if parents do want to go back to work in person, they are having a hard time finding a place their children can learn.

4C for Children, a non-profit organization that trains teachers and helps families find childcare, recently did a survey of Greater Cincinnati childcare centers. The 40% responding reported closing 200 classrooms. The result? Twenty-six hundred fewer seats.

Numbers from Dayton childcare centers were similar.

Why are there fewer classrooms?

4C CEO Vanessa Freytag says there are fewer classrooms because there is no teaching staff available.

She says teachers have left for several reasons. “Many of our teachers were older. They’ve been amazing teachers for decades and I think the pandemic was just the moment when they said, ‘OK, I’m ready to retire.’ We know that happened, for sure. We also know that many of those teachers also juggled their own families.”

Freytag says still other teachers left for other opportunities in education and different fields.

Now parents are scrambling

Freytag says childcare is the workforce behind our workforce. “When a childcare teacher cannot be in a classroom the classroom is closed," she says. "It’s not just a job that is no longer being filled. It’s affecting all the families that would have put their children in that classroom.”

4C for Children hopes to excite and interest new people in becoming childcare teachers in a field Freytag calls tremendously rewarding and a place you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.