Parents struggle with child care options as they head back to work

Some people are anxious to get back to work again when restrictions start to loosen next week. But for others, it could be a nightmare.

MADISON, Wis. — Parents who are going back to work next week find that they don’t have many options when it comes to child care. With schools not open and child care centers either closed or under tight restrictions, many parents feel like they’re stuck in a tough situation.

“It’s a hot mess,” said Dane County mother of three, Emily Dimond.

Dimond described this situation as being “nearly impossible” for working parents to figure out a plan as to what to do with their kids when they have to go back to work.

Dimond is a nurse and a full-time student. Her husband is a physician. Dimond said they’ve been struggling with child care options for the past two months now, worried about what the next day could bring.

“You’re trying to balance work or school with taking care of these kids who are normally in child care and it’s very difficult,” she said.

Child care center owners are also concerned about the restrictions and the burden it places on parents.

Macy Buhler, who owns Yahara River Learning Center in Deforest, said she’s had to make some major changes to the way she operates to get her facility back up and running by next week.

“I don’t want to say ‘the new normal’ because I don’t want this to be normal,” Buhler said, referring to this being her center’s “COVID phase”.

Buhler said when she opens her child care center again, she will be doing temperature checks on all the kids, having parents sign off on a checklist stating that the kid is healthy, will not allow parents to enter the building, and will be shortening her hours to “have ample time to really clean and disinfect our spaces.”

Many childcare centers are at capacity, closed or parents just aren’t comfortable sending their kids back into a group setting.

And every parent likely knows someone dealing with at least one of those struggles now.

“Well some of them are just still scrambling,” Dimond said. “Definitely still scrambling. I feel like we are still scrambling and we are two months in.”

Dimond said if she can’t find any other options for her kids, she may just have to put her job and education on hold.

“I don’t know what we would do with our youngest.” she said. “I just don’t know what we would do with him.”

The YMCA of Dane County still has open space available for those seeking child care options. Epic has also transformed its headquarter building into a child care center.