Staffing Shortage Causes Childcare Closures in Virginia Beach
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Due to severe, ongoing staffing shortages, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Out-of-School Time Programs (OST) is closing three of its before-school and 11 after-school programs, impacting over 300 participants. Like childcare providers nationwide, hiring and onboarding qualified team members has been a consistent struggle throughout the pandemic. After months of borrowing staff from other department units, the staffing situation has become unsustainable, risking program quality which cannot be compromised in the best interest of the participants. OST is currently down approximately 35 percent of its part-time positions needed to facilitate the programs. Parents in the affected programs were notified Monday, November 15 of the decision which goes into effect January 3.
In preparation for the new school year, already short-staffed, registration numbers were limited to 2,150 when historically, OST would be serving approximately 3,300 participants daily in a normal school year. Then, in early October, four recreation center-based afterschool programs were closed and participants were relocated to the programs at their home schools. Additionally, starting November 29, 19 afterschool programs are being consolidated into 10 schools. Even with these reduced capacities and consolidations, the staffing situation is still not where it needed to be to avoid closing programs.
"Closing programs and reducing services – especially when it relates to childcare – is our worst-case scenario," said Michael Kirschman, Director of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. "We know that this will put many parents in a very difficult position trying to secure alternative childcare, but we have done everything in our power to avoid this and we are sorry that it's come to this point."
Programs selected for closure were identified as those with the lowest registration numbers spread across the City. In choosing the sites that were consolidated, the department was limited by the size of the programs, the space available, proximity of the schools, and whether it made sense from a staffing perspective.
The reopening of programs will be continuously evaluated as staff are hired and onboarded, but there is no timeline for if or when reopening will be possible. If a program is able to reopen, current participants will have first priority for registration.
For more information about OST childcare programs and a complete list of closures and consolidations, visit VBgov.com/childcare.