SHAMOKIN DAM – Child care has emerged as an even bigger issue for businesses these days as pandemic restrictions are eased. Jeff Sheaffer, with Stahl Sheaffer Engineering, says child care is a huge challenge, “We have the majority of our people still working from home, telecommuting, and they have the child care issues that are preventing them from coming back into the office. Some compromised health situations at home, but the vast majority is because of child care.”
Shaeffer says, fortunately, his staff is able to work effectively through telework for the time being, and Joanne Troutman, President and CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, says figuring out the real needs to support the workforce right now has been difficult, “On one hand, we have parents who are very concerned and have that anxiety about sending their child back to school or child care and potentially exposing them to infection.”
“On the other hand, you have parents who are anxious about having their child having to be six feet from one another and masks, and doing all those things,” she said.
Troutman says they are laser focused on child care in the Valley and are looking at both immediate and longterm needs, “We are in the process of kind of collecting information from each child care center locally about who is opening when.”
“We’ve been partnering with the Early Learning Investment Commission at the state level and got some survey data from child care centers so one of the things we’re doing now is making sure that they have the supplies that they need. That they’re not having to go back in and dip into unrestricted dollars to make sure that happens,” she said.
Troutman adds this is important because child care centers, and most nonprofits generally, operate on a very slim margin to begin with. The Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce held a virtual panel discussion focused on updates from their members and community partners on reopening businesses as parts of the state move to green.