Child care centers face growing trouble recruiting workers. That can have disastrous ripple effects.
Credit: George Danby / BDN

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on

Jordyn Rossignol of Caribou is the owner of Miss Jordyn’s Child Development Center. She is a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, District 4.

Pamela (not her real name), a 35-year-old nurse on the maternity floor, finishes strapping her 4-year-old daughter into her carseat and snaps her 6-month-old son’s car seat into its base when she realizes she forgot her cooler of breastmilk on the kitchen counter. She runs inside to grab it when her cellphone rings. It’s her children’s child care center. The director is in tears as she explains to Pamela that they cannot open the center today because they do not have adequate staff to stay within the legal child-to-staff ratio.

Pamela feels her stomach drop. Her husband is away for business and she has to staff two planned C-sections today at the local hospital. What is she going to do? She doesn’t have backup care and relies on her ability to drop her children off to be cared for four days per week by this highly sought after child care center.

Pamela gets in her car, takes a deep breath and calls her boss to let her know that she won’t be in. Before she unloads her children to take them back into the house, she takes a few extra minutes and cries into her hands, knowing that she’s run out of earned time off and won’t be getting paid for this unexpected day out of work.

Meanwhile, back on the maternity floor, Pamela’s boss is frantically looking for backup nurses to cover not only Pamela’s shift, but also a CNA’s shift and a second RN’s shift because their children go to the same child care center as Pamela’s children. What are they going to do? They have two planned C-sections already and will not be prepared for any additional patients who may go into labor today.

Do we see a pattern here? Does this story seem familiar to you? That is because this is what is happening across our nation weekly, even daily. You may read in the news that bills have been passed recently to provide some aid to this specific workforce. Yet, these bills are mere bandages on an otherwise massive, fatal bleed to the industry.

Child care centers, including my own, cannot afford to pay our staff competitive wages or benefit packages without raising costs on families. Tuition for children is already the highest expense in many households, often more than a mortgage on their home. A $200 monthly bonus to our staff given through the American Rescue Plan funds is certainly appreciated, but that alone is not near enough to keep our teachers from seeking out other work with much higher wages and reliable health insurance.

In my child care center alone, I serve more than 98 children. Families from all over Aroostook County rely on my staff of less than 20 employees to show up everyday, for 10-hour shifts, assuring that parents and caregivers can continue to show up to their prospective jobs and keep their families afloat financially. My center has put families in the same position Pamela faced when we have found ourselves severely understaffed and unable to open. Usually this is resolved in a day and we are able to open the next day.

However, the reason I am writing this urgent plea, an SOS if you will, is because very soon, I am afraid that we will be making a similar call to our families. Except the call I will be making, is to inform them that we will be closing our center down completely.

In three weeks, I lost five employees to other employment opportunities that provide not only higher wages, but also benefits that I cannot afford to offer. We cannot operate without teachers. Parents cannot go to work without us. Businesses cannot operate with parents stuck at home without child care.

We’ve been talking about this for two years now with little action, but we are simply out of time. We need to act now.